A view of Texas A&M University’s iconic Kyle Field is one thing. But high-powered peeks at the rings of Saturn and even a dust storm on Mars alongside Aggie astronomers? Only at The Stella Hotel, hosting an annual stargazing series each summer.
Only a few minutes away from Texas A&M in Bryan, The Stella Hotel naturally pays tribute to Aggie culture throughout its 176-room boutique hotel in the form of old photographs, memorabilia, and a classic Aggie maroon-and-white color scheme. But if you look closely, there seems to be another inspiration that shines just as strongly. For one, the term “stella” translates to “star” in Latin. The decor revolves around the cosmos – think pendant lighting that resembles star clusters and dimly-lit common spaces accented with twinkle lights. Even the names of the ballrooms – Orion and Luna – and the Aurora bar are a nod to celestial bodies. But what drives the motif home most are the regular summer stargazing parties, held in The Stella Hotel’s “backyard,” a 10,000-square-foot enclosed turf courtyard.
“We’re on the edge of the city of Bryan/College Station, allowing us to really see the night sky beautifully here,” says Shane Pappas, general manager of the hotel. “That’s something that usually surprises our guests.” But this isn’t just peering up at the sky with your naked eye. Held every third Thursday during the months of June, July, and August, the event comes with at least a half-dozen high-powered telescope-toting members of the Texas A&M Astronomy department, as well as professor Dr. Jennifer Marshall, who builds astronomical instruments at the college’s Munnerlyn Laboratory.
“She’s a leading astronomer in her field,” notes Pappas. That means, yes, you’ll witness different planets, important stars, and constellations, as well as some special “only-an-astronomer-would-know” tidbits. “One time, she showed me the rings on Saturn. Another time, I saw Mars while it was having a wild dust storm. I don’t think many people have had that opportunity.”
The 2019 Star Parties start June 20 and run until September. See full calendar of events here.