Hearsay Hobbies: Amateur Astronomy

Welcome to the first installment of Hearsay Hobbies, my weekly attempt to find a fresh diversion to mundane everyday life. In my weekly hobby pursuit, I hope to inspire you to pickup a shiny new hobby of your own.

This week’s hobby: Amateur Astronomy

To be completely honest, I Googled “cool hobbies” to come up with this week’s topic. I was gone all weekend working on a screenplay – I’ll spare you the details – so I needed a quick fix and frankly, amateur astronomy sounded pretty awesome.

I should note that I’ve fallen for this charade before, however.

Exhibit A: my astronomy course at Boston University. As a naïve Film & TV major, I mistakenly thought that astronomy would be an easy A+. All I’d have to do is look at some sweet slide shows of black holes, check out Uranus, and watch Star Wars once a week, right? Wrong. Couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead of watching Han Solo cruise around on the Millennium Falcon I had to take a lab once a week, bust out a dusty old TI-83 calculator (one that didn’t have Mario on it, ugh), and figure out a bunch of science shit about comets looping around the cosmos.

What a crock of bullshit, right? Can’t a man just sit in a collegiate auditorium and get an A for passing out during The Empire Strikes Back? Guess not. Oh well. Lesson learned (actually, I didn’t learn anything).

Back to amateur astronomy! According to Wikipedia, amateur astronomy is “also called backyard astronomy and stargazing” and is “a hobby whose participants enjoy watching the sky, and the abundance of objects found in it, mainly with portable telescopes and binoculars.

Now THIS is a hobby I could get into. I’ll go buy my lawn chair right now. I’ve got a perfect cooler that sits about an arm’s reach away from a lawn chair. There’s nothing like having a Blue Moon and looking through a telescope up at the real moon. This could be the perfect loner, pensive hobby (to escape the hullaballoo of the weekday) or a great activity to hang out with friends.

It gets better: “The typical amateur astronomer is one who does not depend on the field of astronomy as a primary source of income or support, and does not have a professional degree or advanced academic training in the subject.”

That’s me! I barely even passed an astronomy course. Amateur astronomy is perfect for a guy like me. I love staring up into the sky and pretending to be in deep thought. One of the “common tools” amateur astronomers use is “the naked eye.” Awesome. This hobby is affordable, too. There are a bunch of other sweet gizmos you could buy if you wanted to get really into it.

For now, I think I’ll take my chances with my eyes, Blue Moon, a lawn chair, and stocked cooler. Let me know if you want to take up amateur astronomy with me. We can make it a habit to look for Uranus.

This post was written by Billy Kirland, a co-founder of The Millennial Man. 

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