Accomplished in the use of a Williams Optics Zenithstar telescope, talented at astrophotography and a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson (“Who isn’t?” he asks), Andrew Lapeer is reaching for the stars as his family has always encouraged him to do.
“I have held an interest in the cosmos for as long as I can remember,” says Lapeer. “My mother and grandmother will often tell stories about my fascination with the moon as a child.”
On the order of deGrasse Tyson, host of National Geographic’s Star Talk, Lapeer has set his sights on becoming an astrophysicist. Accepted at the University of Michigan, he will begin classes in the fall with a major in Astronomy and Astrophysics. And the Lapeer (city) native is almost as excited about living in Ann Arbor as he is about gaining access to U of M’s worldwide network of telescopes and observatories, including those on its own campuses.
“My plan is to get an apartment off campus and truly immerse myself in the campus life,” says Lapeer. “I was raised in a small town with an approximate population of 800 so it’s a big jump, but exciting nonetheless.”
While a student at Macomb, Lapeer was a contributor to Helium Flash, a sky-focused newsletter edited by Francette Fey, astronomy professor and keeper of Macomb’s own observatory on South Campus. For the newsletter’s last issue, Lapeer used the Williams Optics Zenithstar and a Canon Rebel T7i to capture photos of The Pleiades (Seven Sisters), a star cluster within the Taurus constellation, located about 400 light years from Earth.
“The Williams Optics Zenithstar is an APO doublet (this is not a misspelling) refractor telescope, meaning it uses two internal mirrors to bring three different wavelengths into focus together in the same place,” explains Lapeer. “In simpler terms, it does a fantastic job amplifying light particles from across the universe.”
Lapeer gives much credit to his parents, brother and grandmother for being “beyond supportive” as he follows his dream, and he offers the same encouragement to others.
“The one piece of advice I would give any incoming student would not be restricting yourself,” offers Lapeer. “Enjoy new experiences and allow yourself to be open to everything.”
Although he’s “on the fence” about earning a Ph.D., Lapeer intends to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees at U of M. Then, he hopes to conduct private research from locations across the globe, although an astrophotography trip to Alaska is already planned. Befitting a future astrophysicist, Lapeer also researched astronomy programs before choosing U of M. And, so, too, he compared community colleges before choosing Macomb. “Macomb stood out in more ways than one. The MTA (Michigan Transfer Agreement) allowed me to transfer every single course I’ve taken at Macomb, but to see my time end here is sad.” says Lapeer. “Macomb has allowed me to grow tremendously as a person and pursue paths I never dreamed of. The experience has been amazing.”