Tuesday, December 21, 2010

RTT: Baby, It's Cold Outside!

If you like Random Thoughts Tuesday, take a look at the Un Mom. She invented it. Go ahead, it won't kill you.


There exist activities in life that are lonely. Long distance running, writing poetry, taxidermy, watching CSPAN. But none hold a candle to the stark solitude of the King of Seclusion: Astronomy.

Sure, it sounds sexy and sophisticated. When I tell people at parties that I am an amateur astronomer, I can see that they naturally want to get closer to me and spend the rest of the party with me holding court over their fascinated faces. It shows in their eyes. Those expressions cannot mask the feelings of attraction and enchantment. Undeniably alluring, as you no doubt will agree.

Yet somehow, people are always too shy to ask more, and they turn away. Perhaps it's their embarrassment of not understanding the Messier Catalog, or their confusion over even the simplest aspects of astronomy, like Stellar Magnitude. Even when I explain the most seductive topics, like Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion with regard to Orbital Mechanics (I see that come-hither look in your eyes already) people naturally cut and run, rather than succumb to their greater desire to spend an evening of star gazing ecstasy.

Therefore, it is my lot in life to spend those long, ebon-blanketed nights with my notebooks and charts, peering through the atmosphere into the deep chasm of the cosmos, keeping all of my heavenly euphoria to myself. But what is seclusion, if not the joy of spending one's time with the company of inner greatness and divinity? Oh yes, some have scoffed at that. But I showed them. I showed them all! When I bring out my completed Messier Certificate and flash that baby at the Scoffers, who has the last laugh, I ask you? Hah! I say. Hah, hah!

Hah! One last time. And last night, while I watched the partial Lunar Eclipse, who had the Divine power then? Was it those in slumber? Of course not. Even my own wife, warmly tucked under the blankets, could not stop my visual caressing of the Lunar surface.

She could, however, lock the house up, forgetting that I was standing in the yard, with the nighttime temperature of 20°F compressing itself into my body, seeping deep into my bones themselves.

You know what? Forget it. Astronomy sucks. I think I'll learn chess. Enjoy the friggin' picture of the Moon, from the other post, Scoffers!


  1. Hey I was out there too! Well, for at least sixty seconds anyway.

  2. We had clouds. Bah.

    You're rocking my socks Astro. I love this post. And you're wife got a great sense of humor. (Right, she accidentally locked you out. Whatever helps you sleep at night.)

    Does the Kepler bit have anything to do with retrograde motion?

  3. There were clouds in the way over here, but i didn't mind being outside as it was like 70 degrees (it's 80 today!)


  4. OMG. Your and you're are killing me, killing me! "your wife has a great sense of humor" Mea culpa.

  5. dbs: You still get full credit. Besides, after a minute or so, it still looks the same, so what the heck! Might as well pop out, take a look, and not lose a lot of sleep.

    Nicole: Yeah, my wife is a real charmer. My fault entirely, as I helped get her sense of humor to Three Stooges levels.

    To complete my nerdiness on this I have to say I'm impressed with your bringing up retrograde motion, since I can't even get my own family members to have a clue on it. Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion don't deal with that, but are focused on orbits of the planets in ellipses and the movement and speed of planets through those ellipses (the first two laws) and the third has to do with a planet's mean distance from the Sun and its orbital period. See how incredibly alluring this stuff is? You must be positively dying to hang out now and talk astronomy!

    Amber: Feel the jealousy coursing through me right now? I have to wait five months for temps like those!