These tips will help you make your pursuit of astronomy more
enjoyable, and the events more memorable.
- Counteract light pollution. This is your biggest enemy, after the IRS. Make a point of
asking your municipality and others to use outdoor lighting that does not scatter light
- Form or join a local group. This will give you resources for battling light pollution,
getting group discounts, etc. You could meet once a month for two hours, and still have
plenty of time for other things.
- Buy books on astronomy. These will give you the theory and training
you need to maximize the return on the time and money you invest.
videos. These will do wonders for your enjoyment level.
- Keep records on what you view. Documenting the experience helps you with "bragging
rights," as well as reinforcing the discipline every good astronomer must have.
- Throw a party for special astronomy events, such as comet-watching. Just keep the lights
- Take an astronomy vacation. Getting out to a new location from which to view the heavens
can be exhilarating.
- Find a long-distance partner you can e-mail about
astronomical events. This effectively
expands the panoramic range of your telescope, if you send images back and forth.
- Drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, and take a multi-vitamin. Healthy eyes work
- Offer to provide astronomical images to local newspapers, newsletters, television
stations, businesses, webmasters, etc., for a very small fee. This adds importance to your
work. And it can lead to bigger things--such as getting your images published in print
internationally. Visit http://www.icstars.com for an example of what two very impassioned part-time astronomers are doing.
Common astronomy myths and misunderstandings, exposed and corrected
- Many people confuse astronomy with astrology. Astronomy is the study of
stars. Astrology is a fiction based on artificial constructs called
constellations. Constellations change over time and they differ to the
viewer depending upon where you are on earth.
- The telescopes of today's leading astronomers are not optical. They are
radio. They often cover many square miles and consist of arrays of antennas.
One of the largest is in South Africa.
- We are not viewing the universe as it is, but as it was. That's because
light, fast as it is, takes a long time to traverse the distance from a star
to where we are. Even the sun's light takes eight minutes to get here.
- Pluto is not a planet. See the
Book Review of How I Killed Pluto.
- A brown dwarf did not come between the earth and the sun in 2010. This
looney idea that allegedly explains various earthquakes defies all logic.
Any gravitational tug on earth will be felt not at one point, but in the
entire globe. That means the far side from the alleged brown star would also
be pulled. And a force strong enough to cause earthquakes would be causing
all kinds of other havoc as well. There's simply no there there.
- The earth and the moon are not pulling each other toward each other. In
fact, the moon is a little farther from the earth with each passing year. At
some point, the earth will lose its moon.
- It's simply not true that no new things are being discovered without
radio telescopes. Amateur astronomers discover new things all the time. The
reason is that you trade "distance" for "width" when looking into space.
Anyone who understands photography or radio antennas will understand why
this is so.