The Observation Deck

The infamous Sommers-Bausch Observatory Observation Deck at CU Boulder holds a deep place in my heart. From the countless amounts of procedures to the late-night karaoke sessions, ‘the deck’ could be considered the best part of the Summer Science Program (SSP).


June 21st, one of the first days here at SSP, really set the stage for the future of this program. I remember how eager I was to finally get to be able to use the technology and astronomical equipment offered here at Boulder. My research team (Go Smoky Mountains) dove straight into working the technology of the telescope. We took flats, scrambled to write in our observation notebooks, and got everything prepared to open the roof. My teammate, Dragoş, pushed the bright green button. Within seconds, the roof started to collapse. The sky unsheathed itself as if you were slowly pulling away a curtain, anticipating the beauty it hides. At this moment, I knew that this is what I want to do in my future. Everything that I had worked for led up to this moment. I watched as my peers held the same magical gaze as I did. Everyone of us was encapsulated by the pure beauty of the sky.


The next observation occurred on June 27th. This time it was different from the last observation. It was time to get to work. As my teammate, Julius, worked as the tech operator for the night, we diligently started to complete our tasks. We took our flats rapidly just so that we had a sufficient amount of time to capture our asteroid’s movement. In between the series of observation sets we got to use the other equipment on deck. Our professor, Dr. Domingue, demonstrated how to use the binoculars and the Dobsonian telescope. Not only does the observation deck allow us to capture our asteroid, but we get to explore other visible objects in the night sky. To put it simply, this observation was memorable because of its relevance to the future. The fast-paced work and focused mindset will prove us beneficial when we are in the same environment in college and beyond.


The July 13th observation was my inspiration for this blogpost. Only one night ago did I recognize a common theme. My favorite memories and experiences have been from the late nights on the observation deck.

 It was a cloudy night, and it was not looking good for our images of the asteroid. As we waited patiently for the pesky clouds to clear, my team and the other team on deck played the official SSP CUB playlist. We started off with “Drops of Jupiter” by Train. One song became two, and then five, and we were on our way to our own concert. The audience consisted of our TA, Peter. Off-key singing and dancing filled the deck. Looking around, I saw joyful faces without a worry in the world. The only thing that mattered was the next line of the current song, hoping that I wouldn’t mess up the words. Nearing the end of our time slot we all sat in a circle and talked. The night was coming to a close. A looming atmosphere of content and bliss surrounded the deck.

Team Smoky Mountains hard at work

All in all, the observation deck here at CU Boulder has become my home. Not my physical home back in Minnesota, but where I feel like I truly belong. Where I can fulfill my passions to the greatest extent.


My name is Mikaylah and I’m a rising senior at White Bear Lake Area High School in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. (GO BEARS) I love astronomy and physics, but other than that I love to longboard. I’m having a once-in-a-lifetime experience here at SSP, and I can’t wait to see what is next. 🙂