Members of Polaris are mainly those who grew attached to the beauty of stars through past experiences in their childhood. They decided to spend more time with stars and make their best efforts to have better glimpses of that beauty through Polaris. There are two regular observations, held during summer and winter vacations respectively in which current members and graduated seniors get together and visit rural areas. The observations are their biggest events through which Polaris fulfills its aspiration where no artificial lights from buildings diminish the beautiful starlight.
“Among several activities, doing regular observations is the most crucial for it often leaves us with some unforgettable experiences,” said Yun Ji-won (English Language & Literature, 2), the vice-president of Polaris. “The observation last summer was a truly precious experience for me. Because the weather was exceptionally good, we could see the shooting stars and even the galaxy, while lying down on the rooftop. The galaxy was just as beautiful as I imagined.”
According to Yun, one quality that is required for Polaris members is patience. Dates for observations are irregular and unsettled, often being cancelled randomly. It is because good weather, the most important component of good observation, must be accompanied in order to see stars. Three things that Polaris members hate in common are cloudy skies, summer rainfalls and the snow. Even full moon becomes undesirable since too strong moonlight might hinder the starlight. Thus, waking up on an observation day to confront rainy weather comes as a common disappointment for Polaris members.
“It is tragic when the weather makes our trip meaningless. Last year, we could not see any stars because of cloudy sky. Others went to sleep, but seniors kept checking outside in hopes of clear sky. At 3 a.m., clouds were slightly cleared, so we all went outside with our telescopes. Even a small number of stars can make us happy,” Yun said.
Another thing members have to be patient with is the cold temperature. Because any kind of heater can emit electric light that obscures starlight, members have no choice but to wear heavy layers of clothing in order to fight against the freezing cold.
“Though the coldness is beyond imagination, we stay outside until the end of the night because in every time slot, different stars arise,” Yun said. “And then, we hurry over to go inside and seniors usually make us ramen,”
However, despite the inconvenience, members say that the observation offers immensely rewarding and fulfilling experiences beyond watching stars.
“While watching stars, I ask myself the most fundamental questions of life such as ‘Who am I? or ‘Why do I live?’” Yun said. “Because stars are so huge and gorgeous, they make me realize how small I am, allowing me rare moments to look deep into myself.”
Polaris makes various attempts to share this experience with other Ewha students. For one thing, Polaris holds public observation once a year, setting up equipments in front of the Student Union Building. It aims to introduce the joy of viewing stars to students.
They also constantly talk about how to take best pictures of the stars they observed. Accumulating photos taken during their observations, Polaris holds photo exhibition during Daedong festival, Ewha’s school frestival. Not only current members but also graduated seniors who still the habit of observing sky display pictures they have taken. One graduated senior sent the picture of sky from Mountain Killimanjaro and displayed an image of the aurora taken while traveling Canada.
“Ewha students do not spare time to look up in the sky,” Yoon explained. “But seeing stars is just something you have to do before you die for it opens a prospect in your life. I hope many students can have chance to enjoy this valuable experience.”