Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Why Astronomy?

  1. Sep 11, 2003 #1
    Why do you like Astronomy?

    It can be an expensive hobby, the best time to do it is on cold dark nights, the best results are tenuous and often difficult to achieve, and rarely do others share or even appreciate your enthusiasm.

    I am an amatuer astronomer (more of a casual observer) and I have my own reasons, which I will share later. I was just wondering what are your reasons?

    So, why do you like Astronomy?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 11, 2003 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Intellectual stimulation/curiosity/sharpening of skills
    A deep sense of awe for & connection to something so big (& satisfaction in understanding)
    A search for understanding about our place in the universe
    A quiet night of reflection and beauty (time well spent!)
  4. Sep 11, 2003 #3
    Thanks for the excellent reply Phobos.

    Anyone else? (You can even ditto Phobos' great answer, if you want.) :smile:
  5. Sep 11, 2003 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Yeah, I'll have what he's having!
  6. Sep 12, 2003 #5
    I started this thread as a result of a Mars viewing party my wife and I had. I was amazed at the amount of impatience and stress that some of the people had in waiting to view the planet.

    I felt rushed and nervous as I struggled to center the image and rush to another telescope and center the image then back to center the image on the first one again... And these were friends of mine! I tried to interest some in other heavenly features such as M-13 a pretty awesome globular cluster (easily viewed at low magnification so it would stay in the field longer to give me time to find Mars in the other scope for the others), but most of them were not too interested in that.

    I knew that most of them were going to be disappointed that they weren't seeing a hubble image or a flyby photo. Only maybe 1 or 2 had a sense that there was something more to the hobby than what you see at the eyepiece.

    The experience got me wondering what all of you thought.

    I love the line Phobos wrote in his response: "A quiet night of reflection and beauty (time well spent!)." This sums up my feelings pretty well also.

    What I like about Astronomy is sitting in my back yard alone with my telescope, with my eyes adjusted to the dark, just sitting and listening to the sounds of the night, the crickets chirping, geese honking softly on the nearby lake, the sound of water rushing over the spillway...The knowledge and wonder that the starlight in my eyepiece has been traveling for years over unfathomable distances to reach me.

    As Phobos so eloquently put it, "time well spent!"
  7. Sep 16, 2003 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Very well said, Artman. I was in the same boat with my Mars-viewing party. It's hard to get non-astronomers excited about a fuzzy faint image in a telescope. Knowing what you are seeing really adds to the experience. As Douglas Adams said, "I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day." But I have had good star party experience with that recent Leonid meteor shower and pointing out sights on a clear night while camping. I was even pleasantly surprised at my Mars party when after apologizing for the tough viewing, the other person said "I'm just happy to be involved" [with respect to all the Mars hoopla].

    From your last post, it sounds like you might enjoy books by Chet Raymo...astronomy professor & naturalist. "Soul of the Night" is a great book if you can find it.

    He also writes various science articles for the Boston Globe...
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Why Astronomy?
  1. Introductory Astronomy (Replies: 2)

  2. Indoor astronomy (Replies: 14)

  3. Basic astronomy (Replies: 1)

  4. Amateur astronomy (Replies: 10)