All Stargazing Together: A Few of my Favorite Things with Jade Emerald Pinto ’25

There are many things that Jade Emerald Pinto ’25 (she/they) could be proud of when she looks back at her year and a half so far at Bates. There are the two clubs she’s founded, for instance, or the fact that she keeps herself physically active as a member of the sailing team and the hip-hop team 2BEATS. There’s the fact that she excels academically, with a major in Physics and a minor in Asian Studies, or that she spent the summer doing astronomy research at Bates. But the thing that brings the proudest smile to Pinto’s face isn’t any of that; it’s the fact that last Tuesday, “we got 20 people to wake up at 3:00 a.m. to come see the eclipse that made the moon red,” she says.

That event was led by the current iteration of the Bates Astronomy Club, of which Pinto is a founder and the president. She and her Vice President Brandon Gustavo Villalta López ’25 work to create a space for astronomy nerds and curious stargazers alike to turn their eyes to the heavens. The club was born over the summer, while the pair spent the summer at Bates together studying galaxy evolution and outflows (“which is basically energy that comes out of galaxies,” explains Pinto) under the guidance of Professor Aleks Diamond-Stanic. 

“We both really love astronomy; that’s what I plan on doing after grad school,” says Pinto. But at Bates, “basically, there’s only two Astronomy classes”; they are folded into the Department of Physics and Astronomy, whose second half often gets forgotten. The solution, to Pinto and López, was clear: “We need the Astronomy Club back!”

Bates had an Astronomy Club several years ago, but it faded when the students running it graduated. In the past few years, says Pinto, much of the department’s equipment has been “collecting dust.” The top floor of Carnegie Science has had an observatory for decades, “and yet there’s only like five people trained for it throughout the whole school,” says Pinto. So over the summer, Pinto and López got to work “talking about, like, ‘Okay, how do we get a club back up at Bates? How does this work?’ We emailed Coram to see if there were any residual things from the last club, we talked to professors who are in the physics department, I got trained for the observatory. It was a lot of steps!”

Those steps took a lot of time and effort, but Pinto hasn’t let the hard work detract from the reason they’re at the helm of the club: an easygoing love for the universe’s beauty. A Physics major who regularly watches Disney movies and a future grad-school student who appreciates the simple joy of lying on their back in a field with a friend watching stars as much as they do astronomical calculations and lab work, they are at once smart and sweet — and value both equally. With the intelligent awe of a student fascinated by the beautiful mysteries of the cosmos as well as the perspective and connection they can foster amongst mere earthlings, Pinto told us a few of their favorite things about their time at Bates, their experiences with the Bates Astronomy Club, and the things they see when they choose to look up.

Favorite thing about running the Bates Astronomy Club:

“I just love the outreach,” says Pinto. “I like to show people that yes, astronomy is physics, but you don’t have to be in physics to love astronomy. Anyone can be a part of the club. Like, the moon event. Everyone was like, ‘Well, I’m an anthropology major.’ I was like, ‘That’s sick! Like, yes, come look at the moon with us!’ There’s no qualifications you need to sit there and look at the moon. It’s really fun to get a whole bunch of different people together.”

Favorite activity (past or planned) with the club:

The eclipse viewing was the club’s first event, but more are in the works. Her favorite item on the drawing board, says Pinto, is her plan to grab some Bates funding and a few white vans, and take students out to camp and stargaze in Acadia National Park. “We also have lots of access to telescopes that are easier to travel with, not just ones that are massive on top of Carnegie,” says Pinto. “So yeah, that’s the plan: to go camping, take telescopes, steal a couple of students, and, yeah, just make a weekend out of it.”

The trip will probably be “a little collab with the Outing Club,” says Pinto. “They don’t know it yet.”

Favorite thing to see in the sky:

Pinto is an egalitarian at heart — valuing the events that non-physics nerds can enjoy and the celestial objects that you don’t have to be an expert to appreciate — and their favorite things in the sky are no exception. The Blood Moon caused by last week’s eclipse, for instance, was a favorite “just because you didn’t really need any equipment to see it,” they say.

Their favorite constellation is Orion, for a similar reason. “I feel like Orion kind of brings people together because everyone can see Orion,” they say. Even in Pinto’s native New York City, “when probably one of the stars is a helicopter, you can still see Orion. And it’s pretty great. You don’t need to know any constellation to see the three stars that bring Orion together.”

Favorite astronomy experience:

This fall, Pinto traveled with her research partner López to the SACNAS National Diversity in STEM conference in Puerto Rico. “That was probably my favorite thing about astronomy … being able to not only talk about science with other people, but then have a powwow,” she says. “From 12:00 to 1:00 you talk about all the science jargon and then from 1:00 to 2:00 you party and listen to Hispanic music.” She and López presented some of their research and ate lots of good food.

Favorite Thanksgiving dish:

“My answer might have been different nine years ago, but now I’m a vegetarian,” says Pinto. These days, “my favorite Thanksgiving dish is deviled eggs, because I can only get my aunt to make them for me on that holiday. And they’re so good!”

“It’s like an aunt thing,” Pinto says. “Don’t tell my mom.”

Favorite study spot on campus:

“Oh, gosh. I get distracted so easily!” says Pinto. When it’s really time to buckle down, they head to an audio room on the ground floor of Ladd Library. “I do partake in the Disney section … I’ll play a little Disney movie in the background,” Pinto laughs. With just one seat per room, “I call the desk; I get dibs. And then I do my work, and Rapunzel is in the background singing. It’s great.”

Favorite life lesson learned from the Bates Astronomy Club:

“The most important lesson I feel like I learned was not to hold yourself to the same standard as people, especially from their past, but realize that you are in the same place as them now,” Pinto says. They attended an arts-focused high school, and transitioning to a STEM major at a top college often made them feel like “I love astronomy, but maybe someone knows more astronomy facts than me. That can be a damper on your self-esteem,” they admit. 

But if the constantly-expanding universe has taught her anything, it’s that the past doesn’t limit the future; there is always space to grow. “It’s like, I’m the president of the astronomy club now!” Pinto laughs. “It doesn’t matter who took what math course in high school. We’re all Batesies and we’re all here.” 

Wherever you come from, says Pinto, the most important thing is that today “we’re all stargazing together.”


Students interested in looking at the heavens with other joyful stargazers can follow the club’s Instagram page at @BatesAstronomyClub or email Pinto at [email protected].