Blue-collar Astronomy, not Quantum Stellar Hyper-Mechanics :)


In the last couple of years, while I have been going to community college to become a registered nurse, I have fallen in love with science. I have been fortunate enough to take a fair number of science classes, and lately I've been dabbling in astronomy. 


One thing that has baffled me is that when I try to bring up the subject of astronomy in public places, I find that 1) most people have little interest and 2) when someone is willing to try and talk about astronomy, that many people immediately resort to talking about black holes, anti-matter, and a host of topics that are far beyond the scope of a lay, everyday blue-collar interest in science. In contrast, I prefer to talk about observations and phenomena that I can actually see, understand, and even measure or verify. For instance, I have been reading books that describe the apparent motion of the stars (from west to east) over the course of an evening, or the apparent motion of circumpolar stars that revolve around the north star and never set, or how the moon's rising and setting times change much faster than those of the sun - basic, but poignant observations of the night sky. 


I find it ironic that the few people who find science topics worthy of casual conversation tend to want to talk about more arcane advanced science that would require many years of study and specialized experience to comprehend when there's already so much that can be explored with the basic observation skills that nearly every human being is born with (eyes and a brain).


I even tried to join in on discussions with a local amateur astronomy club in my town, but they are more interested in observing with telescopes, rather than simply noting various sky phenomena with the naked eye or, applying some basic math to show the myriad of things we take for granted (like the daily motion of the sun).


For the first several thousand years of recorded astronomy, humans didn't have telescopes, and yet so much was learned simply by looking at and recording the sky. It's seems sad to me that this activity has largely become uninteresting for most people. In my mind, one has to start at the basics to make the most of the advanced concepts - but I suppose that doesn't have to be true in our modern world of professional science and specialization.


Please forgive me if I sound like a pessimist - I'm truly not. As penance I shall post some naked-eye sky trivia, to balance out this long drawn opinion post :)


Take care! 

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