On April 19, the Belen Astronomy Club celebrated 30 years of the Fr. Benito Vines, SJ Observatory. Belen Jesuit was very fortunate to receive the gift of this observatory from the class of 1972, making it one of the only observatories owned and operated at a high school in Florida.
"The class of 1972 wanted to give back to the school, and they knew that I, their humble teacher, really liked the study of astronomy" said Director of the Observatory Father Pedro Cartaya, SJ. "I think the school has continued a great Jesuit tradition of science and education through the observatory."
“While we are celebrating the Belen Observatory in Miami, Belen’s tradition for studying astronomy dates back to the first observatory in Cuba in 1857. Jesuit Education has always been committed to the study of science in order to defend our faith,” said Fr. Willie García-Tuñón, S.J. '87.
The observatory has an array of 11 telescopes, and Belen is the only school in the United States equipped with a 16” telescope with a CCD (digital) camera for astrophotography.
“We have a gem in our school,” says Andrew Arriola ‘20, “We have the ability to observe the stars like no other school in South Florida.”
Part of the presentation was a recap of all of the accomplishments members of the Belen Astronomy club have taken part in, such as the Solar Eclipse, otherwise known as the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017. Students have also experienced the conjunction of Venus and Mercury which occurred on March 3, 2018. Guided by Father Cartaya and Astronomer Dan Del Rio students also took part in this year’s STEAM fair for the first time. “The astronomy club is growing just like the school is growing,” said sophomore Andres Alfonso.
The event came to a close with a reception in the Dining Hall where awards were presented to current members of the Astronomy Club. Click here to view pictures from the event.
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School was founded in 1854 in Havana, Cuba by Queen Isabel II of Spain. The task of educating students was assigned to the priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), whose teaching tradition is synonymous with academic excellence and spiritual discipline. In 1961, the new political regime of Cuba confiscated the School property and expelled the Jesuit faculty. The School was re-established in Miami the same year, and over the next decade, continued to grow. Today, Belen Jesuit sits on a 30-acre site in western Dade County, only minutes away from downtown Miami.