“Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.”
My name is Jack Bennett, I live in London, and I have started this blog about stargazing and amateur astronomy to keep track of my attempts to explore the sky and the universe.
There is a famous anecdote about an astronomer who fell into a well because he was too busy looking at the sky to see where he was going. Or do you know how many astronomers it takes to change a light bulb?
Anyways, we astronomers have always been the butt of jokes. We are deemed eccentric and sometimes even crazy. Most people fail to understand how grown men could spend their nights in rooftops and lonely fields looking up at the sky.
Let me tell you a secret. We astronomers fail to understand how one couldn’t. Because the sky is an infinitely interesting thing. And another correction – we are not looking at the sky. We are watching the universe.
So why watch the universe? To us, the answer is evident. But for those who have not yet been introduced to astronomy, here are a few reasons.
Astronomy has all the answers. From physics to chemistry to even biology; watching the universe has taught mankind many interesting and sometimes practical things. The origin of life, the way a microwave oven cooks food, the structure of the atom, as you are reading this, mankind is forever learning new things. All thanks to astronomy.
Astronomy is dramatic. If you enjoy Hollywood potboilers you are settling for insipid stuff. There is far more exciting things happening every night in our skies. Stars go supernova swallowing whole planetary systems. Galaxies zoom across space at unimaginable speeds. And lurking in the dark are unassuming black holes, ready to suck in everything that comes near them.
Astronomy is all about time travel. If you want to know more about this you can attend the seminar of time travel that is going to take place last Wednesday. Well jokes aside, the night sky is also a window to a past. The light that is reaching us from distant galaxies is millennia old. Sometimes billions of years old. So the stars that you could see tonight might have gone supernova even before dinosaurs roamed the planet. In fact there could be a giant chain explosion going on in the Milky Way, destroying all the stars in its path. And we will never know until it is too late, if not for astronomers.
Astronomy is cool. From Star Trek to Star Wars to Interstellar, all the coolest shows and movies are actually about Astronomy. However we astronomers know much cooler stuff about the stars than any Hollywood script writer.
Now here’s the reason why I love being an astronomer. The night sky is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. And it continues to be infinitely beautiful, infinitely complex and different every single night. Nothing on earth compares with the sight of a million shining points of light shimmering in a deep blue sky. And if you have access to a telescope (the more powerful, the better) the sights that you can behold cannot be described with mere words.
About the light bulb. Well we astronomers would never even dream of changing the light bulb. We prefer the dark.
Thanks for reading this and welcome to my blog – Stargazing in the UK.