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The Telescopers | Dakota Life

The cold weather was not enough to keep University of South Dakota students from venturing out to get an up-close view of space with The Telescopers.

This group, under the USD Physics Club, is the brainchild of Oleksandra Lukina. Better known to all as Sasha. She began her USD career as a foreign exchange student from the Kyiv National University. However, just one month after arriving in Vermillion, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine put a hold on her plans to return home at the end of the semester. “When the war started, it became clear that it’s not a good idea for me to go back. USD offered me a scholarship with support that allowed me to stay and transfer. So, I became a full student and now enjoy USD.”

While still in high school, Lukina explained that she helped in recording data at a professional observatory outside of Kyiv. Like a star flickering into existence when all ingredients are present, she and fellow physics students discovered telescopes collecting dust at the university, and an astronomy club was born. Events began with just students, but quickly drew the attention of the surrounding community. Today, anyone from the public is welcome to attend Telescoper events.

“She started Telescopers as a way of increasing knowledge and it’s a beautiful way of giving back.” Says fellow USD student and Telescopers member, Andrew Jochum. “I think it happens to everyone; you forget how beautiful the sky is… This club has just helped me even more to be able to look up.”

To Sasha, scientific outreach is a duty that she and other scientists share. “We have a responsibility to share it with the public. It’s unfair to learn things and just keep it to ourselves. That’s the work of the scientist.”

For more info on upcoming Telescoper Events, click here.

Tim Davison joined the SDPB team in 2022 as an Emerging Content Producer. Originally from Nebraska, Tim has held many different positions over his career, including work on film and media projects focused on natural history and wildlife conservation. Most recently, he worked on Planet California, which aired in the summer of 2022 on PBS. An outdoorsman and oil painter, Tim describes himself as a lover of strong coffee, witty puns, and well-crafted storytelling. He and his wife, Stephanie Arne of Pierre, currently live with their dogs, cats, and innumerable plants in Sioux Falls.