You Know You’re An Astronomer When…

Article written: 23 Jan , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

[/caption]
There’s a new group on Facebook that is pretty fun. It’s called “You Know You’re An Astronomer When…” and they are putting together a great list of things which might indicate that you’re an astronomer: one of those hardy souls willing withstand freezing temperatures just to catch a glimpse of the night sky. The first few are quite telling:
1. You see a bright star and know that it’s actually Mars.

2. You know the names of specific craters on the Moon.

3. You know the significance of the phrase “Oh Be A Fine Guy/Girl, Kiss Me” or as we knew it in my high school astronomy class… “Oh Boy, A Fat Girl Kicked Me”.

And then there is my favorite: 29. You know every line to the movie Apollo 13, and have possibly read the book. (That one really gives me away!)

The list goes on, and people are adding to the directory of key indicators all the time. Here’s more…

Here’s a few more (my comments in parenthesis)

5. You have a personal vendetta against the weatherman. (Well, my brother is a weatherman, so I have to be careful here!)

6. You know that Olympus Mons is the tallest peak in the solar system and which planet it’s on.

(Here’s a perhaps controversial one:)
12. You know that Pluto really isn’t a planet and shouldn’t have been considered one to start –as sad as it may be.

19. You can pronounce Betelgeuse, Uranus, Charon, and Cassiopeia at least two different ways each.

21. Someone casually wonders aloud how many planets out there might be able to support life you immediately think of the Drake equation.

28. You have Astronomy podcasts on your ipod. (Yay! love that one, too!)

This is an open group on Facebook, so even if you aren’t part of this social networking website, you should be able to check out the list, which is expanding all the time. Perhaps UT readers have some ideas?


29 Responses

  1. Jorge says

    Hm… I’m not an astronomer, but I fit into some of those. What does it mean? I’m an astronomer which is not an astronomer?

    Sometimes it gets hard to differentiate astronomers from space buffs, I guess… πŸ˜‰

    And #12 is just silly. And don’t bother arguing: it just is.

  2. Sofia says

    I admire the image of the post πŸ™‚

  3. Member

    when you ask for bilberry jam on your toast?

    when you name your pets after constellations?

    when you consider jupiter to be an annoying light source?

    when you choose what new car you’ll buy by what astronomy equipment will fit in the back?

    when you decorate your christmas tree in red lights so you don’t ruin your dark adaption?

    when you start computing the logistics of turning your frozen swimming pool into a 20 ft. mirror blank?

    when spilled salt begins to suspiciously look like star clusters?

    when you can’t walk outside without looking up?

    when you put a red filter in your car dome light?

    when you turn down a date because it’s new moon?

    when you check every mirror for optical quality instead of whether or not your make-up is on straight?

    when you carry an “observing bag” instead of a “purse”?

    when the contents of the bag are spare eyepieces, electrical tape, pliers, a 35mm film canister, 1/4 20 screws, a spare wingnut, a swiss army knife and lens tissues instead of a comb, makeup, cell phone, money and credit cards?

    when you start connecting freckles on your grandkids faces to make constellations?

    heheheeeee…. πŸ˜‰

  4. Sofia says

    I vote for Tammy ! πŸ™‚

  5. I figured Tammy could come up with just a few!

  6. Salacious B. Crumb says

    You know you’re an astronomer…

    – When you know the word UMBRA nevert refers to Pam Anderson’s shadow at noon.
    – You know a red dwarf is not an embarrassed little person.
    – when Gould’s Belt is not something worn around the waist to keep his pants/ trousers up
    – A dwarf star is not really taking about Danny Devito
    – You know the HERTZ has nothing to do with dropping a telescope mirror on ones foot
    – You know EARTHSHINE is not illegally distilled alcohol by an astronaut on the Moon.
    – The all naked singularities are not a men on their bucks night the night before the wedding.

  7. Salacious B. Crumb says

    You know you’re an astronomer…
    When you hear Doris Day’s “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” and it gives you nightmares for weeks on end… .

  8. Andy F says

    You know when you’re an astonomer …

    When you are willing to incur the wrath of the wife by bringing mud into the house/onto carpets when your telescope is in the back garden!

  9. You know you’re an astronomer…..

    When you are willing to incur further wrath of the wife by purchasing ANOTHER telescope – and you are willing to keep it’s company as you use the couch for a significant time period.

    I wonder if Tammy would be a more understanding spouse?

  10. Tom Nathe says

    C’mon Tammy – Jupiter as a major light nuisance?

    How about the Milky Way as a major source of light pollution?

    Your major criteria when purchasing a car – “will the scope and its gear fit”?

    Or for a house – Where can I put the observatory?

    Your the first to arrive and the last to leave at a star party.

    You use obscure astronomical catalogs for a source of computer passwords.

    You go out of your way to tell a complete stranger not to buy that department store telescope and why.

  11. James says

    You know you’re an astronomer when folks start asking you these questions…
    ..
    1.. “Do people actually pay you to look and WOW! through your telescopes?…”
    Ans. Yep. and the bigger the scope the more you pay!

    2…”Can you see the flag on the moon?..”
    Ans.” Nup, it must have fallen over…”

    3… “Did they REALLY go the moon…”
    Ans. “…Oh most definitely.. and they left those beautiful Hassleblads cameras behind too.. damn…”

    4…”How big is yours? and you do it all night long!”
    Ans. “…Mine is big enough to keep me up all night with a smile on my face…”

    5… Have you seen any Aliens? and have you been into Space (or on the Moon)
    Ans. “…Aliens? only what comes out of the local pub at closing time..and no, I have not been into Space, only on my face..”

    6…If space is endless. why is that light can travel for long and not fade away…..
    Ans. “…Light is charged with electromagnetic particles and they don’t like to be left behind so they just keep up with the light..”

    7…Why do astronomers stay up all night and still get up early in the mornings?..
    Ans…”..We just don’t go to bed…”

    8…Why do you like stargazing so much?
    Ans…”…Because I get paid for it…”

    9…How many stars in Space?
    Ans. “…As many as you can count non stop till you die..”

    10…What gives you the best thrill in astronomy?
    Ans. “… Answering questions..”

    Abbbaddaabbaa. That’s all folks..

  12. Paul in Oz says

    Maybe No.9 Answer should read..”…Light is the electromagnetic spectrum and is just trying to keep up with Time….” Either way, I had good laugh! at them all. Any more? I’m gonna visit your set up soon!

  13. Spoodle58 says

    When cloudy skies are your nemesis.

    When you give street lights in your neighbourhood the evil eye.

    When you take the first day off work at a new job because their is a Venus transit that morning.

  14. AndyF says

    Nancy, your comments are in parentheses (plural). I guess astronomers are too excited by the stories to check the spelling…

  15. Martijn says

    When you know that the song “starry starry night” from Don Mclean is actually not about a starry night

  16. Astrokeener says

    When you know how to show anyone how to find the North Star (Polaris) using the Big Dipper and then can’t help yourself at the same time telling them that the Big Dipper is an asterism and not all of what makes up The Great Bear (Ursa Major), etc., etc.
    One star leads to another?

  17. cckremer says

    …when you have a telecope in your living room

    …When you read Universe Today everyday and respond to its blog

  18. Ken says

    When in the middle of the day someone asks where (planet/star/comet/etc.) is and you point at the ground and say ‘In that direction.’

  19. Marco says

    Speaking of astronomers, while this fly through of Tycho is marvelous, I wonder about something. Is it just a cool visual product, or does this fly through have scientific value? I don’t mean to imply that it should not have been done if there is no utility in it, quite the opposite. This is a work of beauty comparable to great art. If it is also of scientific use, then is a great twofer. I am curious what the professional astronomers have to say.

  20. Sakib says

    You know you’re an astronomer when…..
    Random words start reminding you of certain astronomical objects or certain numbers make you think of specific deep sky objects from ultra obscure catalogues!
    And seeing a clear sky just after sunset makes your heart jump a beat!

  21. Kootstar says

    You know the educational value of: “Sarah Mary’s violet eyes make John stay up nights (period!)” That last word used to be used regularly. Now, I guess it just IS one.

  22. MXTB says

    … you have an affection for things of great age and use the youthful descriptions “spirit” and “opportunity” when talking of them.

  23. Astrofiend says

    From the website stargazing.net:

    You know you’re a Deep Sky Observer when…

    * You consider the moon a major annoyance.
    * You consider Jupiter ‘light pollution.’
    * You consider meteors ‘light pollution’.
    * You consider the milky way ‘light pollution.’
    * You contemplate ways of destroying the Earth because it’s in the way.
    * You pack Dry Ice around your head to reduce the “noise” from your retina and optic nerve.
    * You refuse to use the ladder with your 20″ f/6 at the Winter Star Party stating, “If I use that, the objects are too far north.”
    * You consider the H-II regions of distant galaxies as individual observing targets.
    * You spend most of your time looking at or for objects you can barely see.
    * Your favorite objects are objects you can barely see.
    * You enjoy looking at faint fuzzies with the smallest possible aperture.
    * You enjoy looking at faint fuzzies with the largest possible aperture.
    * You like to choose objects that are easier to imagine than to see.
    * Your observing schedule demands that you search for objects in twilight.
    * You wonder how your favorite objects missed getting included in the New General Catalog or the Index Catalog.
    * You’re not sure that anything in this solar system counts as Astronomy any more.
    * You’re amazed that anyone needs artificial light to read charts.
    * You could do a Messier Marathon from memory, if you still bothered with Messier objects.
    * You can read all the NGC abbreviated visual descriptions without using the key, but you have to be careful not to cheat by just remembering what things look like.
    * You view a major earthquake as an opportunity for a close-in dark-sky star party.
    * You are attending a major star party (guess which one), and you ask the organizers to turn down the Milky Way.
    * You believe M13 ruined your dark adaptation.
    * You welcome (and have even considered instigating) power cuts, but only if they occur on clear moonless nights.
    * You observe M42 at the end of the sessions because it DOES ruin dark adaptation!
    * Your choice of a new vehicle is determined by the size of your scope.
    * Vacation time is planned around the Winter and Texas (or other) Star Parties.
    * Arp is not a funny sound, but the name of one of your favorite galaxy catalogues.
    * You challenge friends by saying, “Lets do something stupid” as you hunt for deep sky objects on a lazy, full-moon night because you are faint-photon starved.
    * You find auroras a complete annoyance because they ruin sky contrast and dark adaptation.
    * You memorize the NGC catalog and can recite type and magnitude off the top of your head when asked “What is a NGC 1000?”
    * Your ideal site would require oxygen.
    * Your ideal vacation would be in Namibia, but…
    * Your ideal telescope would be immovable.
    * You prep your eyes by applying pupil dilating drops until they open to 10mm.
    * You travel to Australia to read your star charts by the light of the Milky Way.
    * You plan a two month trip to Australia and spend all of it in the middle of the continent trying to find every southern DSO.
    * Instead of vitamins you take billberry pills.
    * You actually know where to get billberry jam, and make a point of consuming some prior to observing sessions.
    * You’d rather observe than go on a hot date.
    * For some reason you’re always depressed when that time of the month (full moon) occurs.
    * In preparation for another DSO bout, you carefully massage your eyes to make sure all your rods are discharged.
    * You pay $3500 for a pupil enlargement operation even though you own a 1 meter light bucket
    * You complain you can’t really see the faint stuff because the Gegenschein is too bright.
    * You consider how to blow up the SUN in order to reduce light pollution.
    * While spot checking the collimation of your dob, you note that with concentration you can just begin to detect spiral structure in the dust coating your primary.
    * You take deep-sky pictures during a total eclipse of the moon.
    * You bitch about severe light pollution when the limiting magnitude is “only” 6.5.
    * You actually know how to USE setting circles.
    * You have NO use for setting circles. Star hopping to an 18th mag. smudge is a breeze.
    * You actually USE ‘Uranometria,’ and can quote page numbers.
    * You frequently disagree with Burnhams, and have seriously considered publishing your OWN “observer’s guide.”
    * You see absolutely no value in using a Telrad.
    * Your principal finder scope is larger than 80mm.
    * You consider 15 minutes to be a ‘quick’ exposure.
    * You see more DSOs on your laptop screen during an evenings’ observing session than you do through the eyepiece.
    * You have seriously considered starting up your own anti-satellite lobby.
    * You have blackened the edges of your eyeglasses.
    * You are briefly taken aback by the brightness of a normal flashlight under “normal flashlight” circumstances (power outages, e.g.).
    * You hire a crop duster to spray the surrounding area because last night the fire flies kept ruining your dark adaptation.
    * You think GM’s Daytime Running Lights are some kind of evil alien scheme.
    * You can make ten trips lugging equipment back and forth across a cow pasture without stepping on a single cow pie, using only the illumination of that garishly bright Milky Way to guide you.
    * You wear sun screen during full moon periods.
    * You wear sun glasses during full moon periods.
    * You wear red sunglasses all day in preparation for viewing that night.
    * You’ve been thinking that a 14th century black monk’s hood is a pretty cool idea.
    * Night lights are a nuisance in your house.
    * You wear an eye patch during the viewing session.
    * The dome light of your car is painted red.
    * You paint the LED’s on your equipment with red fingernail polish so that they are dimmer.
    * You begin to realize that even the deepest red flash light is affecting your vision.
    * You remove the LED on your drive control panel, because THAT ruins your dark adaptation.
    * You use an infrared flashlight.
    * You keep thinking that if only the stars would go away, it might really get dark.
    * You always set your scope up so that you can’t move your car until daylight.
    * You bring a gallon of coffee (or 12 pack of Diet Coke) to the viewing session. If the caffeine doesn’t keep you awake the urge to “go” does.
    * You keep a cross-index of stuff that you have looked at on 3×5 file cards organized by object catalog number, so you can easily find your logged observations of any specific object.
    * You have elective surgery to replace your eye’s natural lenses with f/0.8, oil-spaced, apochromatic triplet objectives designed by Roland Christensen.
    * You think about how to smash the nearby street light without getting caught.
    * You think about how much the penalty would be for smashing the nearby street lamp.
    * You’re caught by the police climbing light poles at night trying to “unscrew” the bulbs.
    * You ask your neighbors over to star gaze, so they will know to turn out their porch lights.
    * You complain you can’t really see the faint stuff because the Zodiacal Light is too bright.
    * You can talk with a red flashlight in your mouth.
    * You can actually understand someone talking with a red flashlight in THEIR mouth!
    * You get a “DSO” tattoo on your arm.
    * You name your kids after deep sky objects.
    * In order to provide better spousal communication, you buy your wife a light bucket and compare notes.
    * Your wife places a picture of herself in your favorite star atlas, to remind you of what she looks like.
    * Your spouse is wearing a sexy evening garment with wine glasses in hand and you want to stay outside in -10 degree temperatures to catch a few more NGC’s.
    * You get red contacts made ‘cuz the red goggles have been letting too much white light.
    * You glue glow-in-the-dark M-objects on your living room ceiling for practice observing during overcast evenings.
    * When the sequence “OBAFGKM” feels more natural than “ABCDEF…”
    * You plan your trips past the Arctic/Antarctic Circle to coincide with the appropriate solstice.
    * You look forward to that time of the night when certain edge-on spirals pose at 45 degrees.
    * You pour those Cheerios for breakfast at 6:00am in the morning only to realize you haven’t been to bed yet.
    * You refer to your Cheerios breakfast as “my bowl full of M57’s.
    * You start looking for the central star in one of your Cheerios… and you see it.
    * You drive to the observing site in a Ford Galaxy… whose license plate number starts with “NGC”
    * You can make observations of mag 18 galaxies from your driveway with your favorite Tasco 50 mm refractor!
    * you see the letters “sex” and your first thought is of the constellation sextans!
    * You look forward to that time of night (year) when the Milky Way goes all the way around the horizon.
    * Find an 8″ F6 with a really good primary and think “This will make a nice finder on my big DOB.”
    * You just finished a 30 minute exposure and realize that you never cocked the shutter.
    * You drive 130 miles to a remote site in pouring rain and sit there all night hoping it will clear.
    * You have learned to judge your dark adaptation (and the quality of the dark site) by how good M-13 (or some other big, bright DSO) looks naked eye.
    * You have learned to judge your dark adaptation (and the quality of the dark site) by how good M-33 (or some other big, low surface brightness DSO) looks naked eye.
    * You try to convince the “shallow sky observers” that comets and asteroids are much more interesting than planets.
    * Your collection of astrophotos weighs more than you.
    * Your collection of disks of CCD photos weighs more than you.
    * You can point out the locations of deep sky objects, in broad daylight.
    * You have considered making mega – binoculars out of two 10″ scopes.
    * You have considered buying nearby real estate in order to demolish it.
    * You believe telescopes should qualify for religious tax exemptions.
    * You regard sky charts as ‘Ancient history’ books.
    * You gave up smoking not for health reasons but because it ruined your night vision.
    * You have considered moving to another hemisphere to see some new sights.
    * You get O-III Filter contact lenses
    * You can see planetary nebulae in other galaxies… without an O-III filter.
    * You know the magnification & FOV of all your eyepieces in every telescope ever made.
    * You divorce your wife because she’s “too distracting” at night.
    * You have replaced your eyes with that of a cat… and still use night-vision equipment on your scope.
    * You are saving to put your own telescope in space.
    * You’ve memorized the Palomar Sky-survey because “its good as a finder-chart.”
    * You have a 16″-telescope… as a finder.
    * You were too busy at night to have made children.
    * You try to use gravitationally bended light to view distant objects.
    * You can visually identify the redshift of quasars.
    * You try to view galaxies… through the spiral-arms of other galaxies.
    * You make your own filters.
    * You make your own eyepieces.
    * You live in the desert, but only at night.
    * You don’t have a CCD-camera because the PC-screen ruined your adaptation, and “it looked better visually anyway.”
    * You can find more than 10 non-NGC objects… without looking through the scope.
    * You find 17th-mag. stars “annoyingly bright.”
    * You think you can see the Hubble-Deep-Field… without a telescope.
    * Your eyes only contain rods.
    * Your pupils are always larger than 7mm.
    * You’ve painted yourself black to avoid reflections.
    * You’ve painted everything in a 100-mile radius black to avoid reflections.
    * You’re dreaming about painting the whole world black.
    * A mirror with 95%-reflectivity is “not good enough.”
    * You cool your surroundings with liquid nitrogen to avoid thermal uprising.
    * You’re making a suit to cool yourSELF with too.
    * You have to use sunglasses when viewing objects brighter than 15th magnitude.
    * You have forgotten what the world looks like during the day.
    * You have forgotten what the world looks like at night, ’cause you’re always looking up.
    * You know the periods of extra-galactic Cepheid variable stars… from experience.
    * You have found several comets, but you’re too busy observing to report them.
    * You have reported several comets, but they’re too faint too see by anybody else, so they don’t believe you.
    * You go to bed if naked-eye visibility is worse than 7th mag.
    * You claim to have seen Stephan’s Quintet without a telescope.
    * You find Pluto too bright to view with a 4-inch.
    * You’ve become so nearsighted (by squinting), that you no longer need eyepieces.
    * You’ve coated your eyes so that they’re anti-reflective.
    * You only look at objects when they’re at most 5 degrees from the zenith.
    * You can accurately track objects with your DOB at 700-times magnification… with one finger.
    * You have a voice-controlled dome so you don’t have to leave the telescope.
    * You have trained your bladder to hold it for up to 18 hours on those long arctic winter nights.
    * You think the telescope is part of the family.

  24. Paul Eaton-Jones says

    Astrofiend: Bloody brilliant list.

  25. PaulS says

    … you hate “Daylight Savings Time.”

  26. Jim Brant says

    Haven’t laughed this hard since Don Parker’s S&T article “Home Is Where Your Observatory Lands” after Hurricane Andrew in Miami (1992)!

  27. Spoodle58 says

    Billberrys as in Blueberries, weird, I never knew they helped dark adaption.

    What is even stranger is blueberries are my favorite food along with garlic and tuna(poor fishes but their tasty).

    What is even better is garlic, tuna and blueberries in a sandwich or bap together.

Leave a Reply