Letting my geek flag fly

BBC News – Venus and Jupiter to pass in the night sky.

Here’s a bit of information that not everyone knows about me…I used to be a science geek.

Yes, it’s true.  I spent the first 2 1/2 years of college as a Physics and Astronomy major.  You see, my dream was to work for NASA one day!  I was going to discover strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations…. Oh.  Wait.  That was a different dream.

Actually, it’s true.  I was a Physics/Astronomy major.  And I did want to work for NASA.

In all honesty, I was much more into the Astronomy part of my major.  I loved the stars and the planets.  Heck, I had my own telescope and a glow-in-in-the-dark star chart!  I thought the night I was able to see a moon of Jupiter without using a telescope was one of the coolest nights of my life.  I still think that, actually.

So why am I not working for NASA?  I fell out of love with Physics.  I know, I know.  The two go hand in hand.  But it was just Classical Mechanics and all of the classes that didn’t directly involve Astronomy that just really turned me off to the discipline.  What did I do?  Midway through my Junior year in college, I changed majors.  Yep.  I spent the first day of the Spring semester doing nothing but having ADD/DROP forms filled out.

I  hanged my major to Speech Communication.  Talk about taking a one-eighty!  But, that’s what I did.  I started all over.  Fortunately, all of the math and science courses I’d taken for my previous major transferred right over and filled up my “general” course work as well as my requirements for upper-level electives.  All I had to do at this point was take classes in Speech Comm.  In fact, in my final semester, I needed to take 2 classes in order to remain a full time student (which I needed to do to live on campus).  So, I took an additional English Literature course and …ready?… Movie Musicals!  That was awesome!  (I ended up with minors in Physics and English Literature – what a combo, huh?)

Venus and Jupiter to pass in the night sky

When I see news like this about Jupiter and Venus, I still get a little tingly.

One of the things I really dislike about living in Chicagoland is that I seldom get really good views of the night sky.  There’s just too much light around here!  I miss living in Shepherd, Michigan.  There it was me, a corn field, and the deer that would graze in my front yard.  There were no lights to drown out the beauty of the stars and planets.  I miss driving through West Texas when I would travel to and from San Diego during school breaks.  There it was me, my car, and millions of points of light.

The good thing here is that Venus and Jupiter are two of the easiest planets to identify – they are both very, very bright – so I do get to see them often.  But for a conjunction like this, it should be a pretty sight – moreso than normal.

I’d like to get another telescope one day so I can see these celestial bodies “up close” again.  Another great night in my life was when I saw the rings of Saturn.  Oh, man…was that cool!

When you look up in the night sky, do you know what you’re seeing?  Can you tell the difference between the stars Vega and Sirius?  Do you know how to tell whether you’re looking at a planet or a star?  Well, knowing the difference between Sirius and Vega isn’t a big deal…unless you’re into astrology, then you might have an interest.  But knowing the difference between a planet and a star can be pretty important if you’re going to gaze at the night sky.

I’m sure there are constellations that we all know either though our K-12 education or from watching TV.  Orion is one of the easiest to locate – just look for his belt.  Most people can find The Big Dipper and The Little Dipper.  Cassiopeia is pretty easy to spot as well – it’s not far from Orion.

There are lots of places online where you can view interactive charts.  They’re pretty interesting.

Over the next few days, we’re supposed to be having really nice weather in Chicago – very warm, clear skies.  I think I’m going to spend come of that time outside – looking up to see what I can see.

The following is just a cool song.  I don’t know how I feel about this version of it, but it’s still a cool song, nonetheless.

4 thoughts on “Letting my geek flag fly

  1. good one! i’ve been enjoying the jupiter – venus lineup the past few evenings — good clear skies here in s. illinois!

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