Astronomy selects 2015 Youth Essay Contest winner

Thirteen-year-old Julia Derzay of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, wins a trip to the Northeast Astronomy Forum & Telescope Show with her entry for Astronomy’s 2015 Youth Essay Contest.
By | Published: February 20, 2015 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
The editors of Astronomy magazine have selected 13-year-old Julia Derzay of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, as the winner of Astronomy’s 2015 Youth Essay Contest. For her entry on what she loves best about astronomy, Julia will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for her and a parent to the Northeast Astronomy Forum & Telescope Show (NEAF), one of the world’s premier astronomy expos.

“It was a tough decision this year, with so many great entries from students across the country,” says Astronomy Editor David J. Eicher. “But Julia’s essay ultimately stood out for a clever title that dove into a story of curiosity about the biggest questions in the universe, including the nature of dark matter. At 13, that’s a pretty impressive topic to cover.”

“As I studied the mystery of the dark matter that surrounds us, I found out that, as humans, we don’t know everything,” Julia wrote. “It was only 40 years ago when Vera Rubin theorized that dark matter had a part in the rotation of galaxy arms. Ever since then, astronomers have been studying and proposing so much more on dark matter and how it applies to us. We found how dark matter could even change the way we look at space through too much gravitational lensing. Discoveries like these shows us that we still have so much to learn about our universe, and let me be the first to say, I can’t wait to see where those discoveries bring us.”

Beyond being interested in the mysteries of dark matter and other big cosmic questions like life in the universe and the fate of the cosmos, Julia is active on the hobby side of astronomy. She’s an active member of her local astronomy club, including giving presentations to them with her father, who says his daughter is absolutely ecstatic about a trip to NEAF.

For her hobby enjoyment, NEAF features more than 115 vendors selling all kinds of astro-equipment. The event also hosts various celebrities in the astronomy world, this year including space shuttle commander Chris Ferguson and Dawn mission engineer Marc Rayman. Astronomy workshops, daily solar observing, STARLAB planetarium shows, classes for beginners getting into astronomy, and astronomy events for kids will round out the schedule.

“NEAF is just the type of event an astronomy enthusiast with so much curiosity about the universe around us should attend, and I can’t wait to show her and her family the experience,” says Eicher. “I hope we’ll help further her excitement about astronomy and the wonders of the cosmos.”