Article by Diane Stopyra|Photos courtesy of Leia Sofía Méndez, NASA and iStock | Video courtesy of Leia Sofía Méndez and NASA
April 27, 2020
UD student composes music to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope launch
are named after Princess Leia — galactic heroine and double-bunned
nemesis of Darth Vader — the bar is impossibly high. Consider that even
the princess’ theme music throughout the Star Wars movie trilogy,
incorporated into an Oscar-winning score, is set in D Major, a key
frequently associated with overachieving characters. But — for at least
one real-life Leia — the force is strong.
A first-year music composition major at the University of Delaware, Leia Sofía Méndez recently wrote an orchestral piece
in celebration of the Hubble Space Telescope’s 30th anniversary. The
classical music, which incorporates 16 instruments, will be played at a web seminar for teachers
on Wednesday, April 29. Organized by the National Science Teaching
Association, the event will focus on all the telescope has contributed
to science and society since its launch into orbit on April 24, 1990.
“I love the idea of integrating science and art,” Méndez said. “I’ve
always been an advocate for interdisciplinary studies. We live in a
world where nothing can be its own separate thing, in its own separate
box. There is too much overlap and interconnection.”
Before she was born, Méndez’s father landed a job working on the Guide Star Catalog
created by the Space Science Telescope Institute in Baltimore,
Maryland. In that role, he helped the Hubble locate its photographic
targets. This meant Méndez grew up surrounded by iconic images of star
clusters, butterfly nebulas, tadpole galaxies and other space phenomena.
As evocative as the names are, she said, the pictures were even more
mesmerizing. As a toddler — when most kids her age were fixated by
Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers — she spent afternoons naming planets with a
plastic replica of the solar system for company.