‘It just feels like home to me’: Club Nova members share their fascination with outer space

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Courtesy of Club Nova

Members of Wichita State’s only astronomy club, Club Nova, pose together in front of the Cadman Art Gallery. (Pictured from left to right) treasurer Jaidyn Spoon, president Ayshea Banes, social media director Kaitlyn Cowen, and vice president Amanda Perez.

Is Pluto still considered a planet? What even are neutron stars and how fast do they move? Ayshea Banes, president of Wichita State’s Club Nova, knows the answers to those questions and is eager to share her knowledge with others.

Banes, a freshman majoring in physics, hopes to inform members about the fascinating aspects of space.

“The club is fairly new relatively to all the other clubs on campus … Right now, the meetings are every other Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and they are just informational,” Banes said. “… I hope in the near future to have everybody present something they’re interested in about space. Obviously, mine’s gonna be about neutron stars. It’s just to show how crazy space is. Anybody can be interested in space.”

Banes and treasurer Jaidyn Spoon both plan to attend graduate school after earning their bachelors degrees. They also hope to get a PhD in astrophysics. What interests them both about space is the theoretical aspect of it, Spoon said.

“I love the idea of time/space continuum, exploring space on a new plane,” Spoon said. “When we look at space we can’t really look at it as a whole, you have to understand that the idea of space and time works separately … so the idea of understanding how stuff works is kinda cool, especially since we don’t really know anything about space.”

Members of Club Nova at the Involvement Fair in front of the Rhatigan Student Center.
Members of Club Nova at the Involvement Fair in front of the Rhatigan Student Center. (Courtesy of Club Nova)

Banes current obsession is with neutron stars, which can spin as fast as 43,000 times within a minute.

“I’m really interested in neutron stars. It’s insane how fast they move in a single second,” Banes said. “I just like knowing that there is more than what’s on Earth. Just looking at the possibility of life outside of Earth is interesting and it just feels like home to me when I look at space … If I had to choose a way to die, it’d be in a black hole.”

Besides just learning about space, Club Nova also organizes fun space-themed events for members to enjoy. Members recently went stargazing at Lake Afton and are planning to host a Halloween movie night on the 31st, and encourage costumes.

“We don’t want to force professionality on people. This club is not professional at all,” Spoon said. “… Our biggest goal this year is to outreach to different students on campus. To keep [the club] laid back so people aren’t scared like, ‘Oh my gosh, what if I have to know about space and they’ll question me about it?’’’

If interested in learning more about Club Nova, email them at [email protected] or find them on Shockersync.

“It’s a super laid back organization,” Spoons said. “The point of this organization is to promote what astronomy is, baseline stuff, to understand what it is about. You don’t have to have any prior knowledge of what space, physics, or math is. It’s just to get people out there and explore.”