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Thread: You know you're an amateur astronomer if...

  1. #1
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    You know you're an amateur astronomer if...

    Apologize if this has already been posted already, but I found this off a site and thought it was pretty funny. (Note, I did not make these up)


    YOU KNOW YOU'RE AN AMATEUR ASTRONOMER IF

    ... you've been solar observing with your Dob and only half of your face is sunburned.
    ... you go to bed with rings around your eyes.
    ... you spend more for yourself on astronomy gear than you buy for your entire family in gifts in one year.
    ... either Orion, Meade, Celestron, or Lynn Preston has ever said, "I'm sorry but that charge card has exceeded its limit."
    ... you sat through all four (count 'em four) hours of ASTEROID just to spot technical astro-errors.
    ... your work schedule takes a back seat to occultations, meteor showers, eclipses, and comets.
    ... you look upon comet Hale-Bopp's departure with sadness.
    ... you have spent the last year looking for a black hole with your 10" relecting telescope.
    ... you report at the the next meeting of your club that you observed the Horsehead Nebula at the last club observational gathering.
    ... you take all the seats except the driver's seat out of your car so that you can haul your gear to remote sites.
    ... all the interior lights in your car are tinted red.
    ... you sleep with the pillow under your shoulders, not under your head.
    ... the fogged bathroom mirror brings a tear to your eye.
    ... you stop to check on something at the observatory while you are on a date.
    ... your grass becomes hard to mow because of all the cables going to your radio telescope.
    ... you upgrade the suspension and tires on your new van so you can haul a trailer full of telescopes up the mountain.
    ... while at North Myrtle Beach, you notice a beach house with a dome on it, but nobody can tell you anything about it!
    ... you seriously consider missing work or school to attend the Mid-Atlantic Star Party.
    ... you will drive hundreds of miles to look at clouds.
    ... you will attempt to stargaze at Allison's Woods in zero degree weather because it's the first decent night in six weeks.
    ... you actually like muggy summer nights because that's when Jim Rouse says you can get some great planetary shots.
    ... you will buy a house beside a cemetery just to get away from street lights.
    ... you raise hell if Sky & Telescope is late but not if the Sport's Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is late.
    ... you own stock in Meade Instruments.


  2. #2
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    More...

    YOU MIGHT BE AN ASTRONOMER IF

    you own a flashlight that shines red light
    you have ever said, "Oh, be a fine girl, kiss me."
    you can easily tell the difference between a meteor, an airplane, and a satellite
    you think it's only natural to see the sun set when you wake up and rise just before you go to bed
    you actually know the latitude of your home town, your college, and any other place you've been to more than twice
    you bring a clipboard and red light with you on EVERY vacation
    you snicker when someone complains about getting "only" six hours of sleep the night before
    you know which moon in the Solar System resembles the Death Star
    you can see the Milky Way despite the light pollution of your home town
    your favorite pastime when visiting beautiful spots in the countryside is measuring your Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude
    you actually know how to measure your Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude
    you've ever planned a trip to the moon to improve the "seeing"
    you've ever considered blowing up the moon to reduce the light in the sky from the full moon
    you've ever wondered how much you'd be fined if you blew out all of the streetlights on your street so you could see the stars better
    you pronounce "Maria" with the emphasis on the first syllable
    you consider a compliment to be the fourth variable star discovered in Gemini
    you've ever called 1,000 years "very quick"
    you pronounce "Messier" with a French accent
    the phrase "onion skin" makes you think of a type II supernova
    you can pronounce Chandrasekhar, Chicxulub, Schwarzschild, and Hyakutake
    you wonder why no one else is awake at three in the morning
    someone calls you a "wimp" and you wonder what dark matter has to do with anything
    you've lost the ability to enjoy a beautiful sunset because you're too busy wondering if the clouds will clear
    you think a "macho man" is a man who lives on Massive Compact Halo Objects
    you can predict the weather based on your observing schedule
    you snicker when someone complains about getting "only" four hours of sleep the night before
    you consider anything except for hydrogen and helium a "metal"
    you think the purpose of life is to study the sky
    you know the difference between a comet and an asteroid
    you've ever wondered what would happen if you detonated a nuclear bomb on Jupiter
    you missed the sunset because you were taking flats
    if North is drawn at the top of the page, you expect to see East on the left and West on the right
    the last "dirty snowball" you saw was beautiful
    you can convert from AUs to Angstroms
    you consider an insult to be the fourth variable star discovered in Ophiuchus
    you know what APOD stands for
    you missed the sunrise because you were taking flats
    you catch yourself saying things like, "You do realize that the coefficient of friction decreases exponentially as you step over the foul line, don't you?" while doing simple activities, such as bowling
    after such a statement, someone had to explain to you why all your friends looked at you as though you could no longer speak English
    words such as "retrograde", "logarithmic", "exponential", and "elliptical" are part of your everyday vocabulary
    you can draw an H-R diagram from memory
    you know what an H-R diagram is
    you've ever said that you're made of stardust
    the phrase "a mere billion years" is not a contradiction in terms
    you can spell Chandrasekhar, Chicxulub, Schwarzschild, and Hyakutake
    you attend the local planetarium religiously
    you know more than the person giving the planetarium show
    you're actually jealous when you hear someone complain about getting "only" two hours of sleep the night before
    you can refer to WINOs, MaCHOs, WIMPs, TOEs, and GUTs with a straight face
    you don't know why you wouldn't refer to WINOs, MaCHOs, WIMPs, TOEs, and GUTs with a straight face
    you've ever called 11 kilometers per second "very slow"
    you know who Hertzsprung and Russel are
    you can spell Hertzsprung
    you've created countless mnemonics for the Harvard Spectral Class sequence even though you know the order backwards and forwards
    you stay up until three in the morning on a cloudy night, because you actually saw a star at 11:00
    you think in acronyms
    you've ever convinced yourself that you could see the rings of Saturn naked-eye
    you know all of the different stages of sleep deprivation
    you know the entire Greek alphabet even though you've never had one class in Greek
    you have a personal vendetta against the weatherman
    you put on your application to JPL that you know how to use units correctly -- and that you can convert from cgs to SI
    you "know" that Mount Olympus is on Mars
    "pc" means neither "politically correct" nor "personal computer" to you -- it means parsec, of course
    you know when the next meteor shower is
    you think that -1 is bigger than 6 (it's brighter, anyway)
    you know why you'd want to spell or pronounce Chandrasekhar, Chicxulub, Schwarzschild, or Hyakutake
    you know the difference between a meteor, a meteoroid, and a meteorite
    you have your own meteorite
    you are envious when someone says they got ANY sleep during the weeks of August 11, November 17 or December 13
    you know what is special about each of those three weeks
    you plan your whole yearly calendar around those three weeks
    you'd be willing to make yourself 20 years older just to have been in the Arizona desert in the early morning of November 17, 1966!
    the most important event on August 11, 1999 had nothing to do with the moon and the Sun
    your first reaction at seeing a fireball streak gloriously across the sky is to check your watch - or start counting
    your claim to fame is that you've met Tom Bopp, or witnessed a shuttle launch
    you know the difference between pulsing and pulsating
    you haven't seen the sun in a month
    you've ever entered into a debate about whether Pluto is a planet
    you can see clouds in the dark
    you have RAMSDIS Online as well as several local weather stations bookmarked on your home computer
    you wonder why July 20th isn't a national holiday
    you can give the mass of the sun, the distance between the Earth and the sun, the location of the Earth-moon barycenter, the mass of a Hydrogen atom, and the value of the gravitational constant off the top of your head
    you find yourself crossing your "h"s on a regular basis
    you can tell what time it is by looking at the sky -- but only at night
    you know the exact value of the speed of light
    you can quote the average distance of an Astronomical Unit from memory
    you can quote the distance of a parsec in Astronomical Units, from memory
    you can quote the distance of a light year in Astronomical Units, to four decimal places, from memory
    you've ever referred to a gigalightyear
    your friends take it as a given that you're tired
    you've ever decorated your room with a reproduction of your favorite portion of the night sky
    you have the URL for the Astronomy Picture of the Day memorized
    you know how to say "armpit" in Arabic
    you've ever convinced yourself that you can see the four Galilean satellites naked-eye
    you've ever debated whether Charon is a planet
    words like "XY UMa", "Alpha Boo", "SAO 4125", "M42", "NGC 4038", and "OU Oph" make sense to you
    you use Polaris to find the Big Dipper
    you know Greek and Roman mythology
    you haven't slept in two weeks, but you stay up all night anyway because it is clear
    you know what NASA stands for
    you can give the nominative and genitive of all of the constellations
    -- even though you have no idea what a "nominative" or a "genitive" is
    you know the difference between a constellation and an asterism
    you can pronounce Betelgeuse, Uranus, Charon, and Cassiopeia at least two different ways each
    someone calls you a "liar" and all you can think of is Orpheus and his harp
    you cancel a date because it is your night to observe
    . . . and then it rains
    you can list the four Galilean satellites in order of size, distance from Jupiter, or likelihood of life
    the word "Messier" makes you think of galaxies, nebulae, and clusters
    you can pronounce Boötes
    you can point exactly to any first- or second-magnitude star, even though it is completely overcast
    you can point exactly to any first- or second-magnitude star, even if the star is below the horizon
    a well-meaning but ignorant friend has ever introduced you as an astrologer
    this same friend has ever asked how your study of cosmetology was going
    you've caught errors on this list (if so, please let me know)
    your favorite part of the day is when you get to go to bed
    this list made sense to you
    you've ever made a list titled "You Might Be an Astronomer if..."

  3. #3
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    I never knew the career was so discriminating.

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    uhmm how many of these do we have to meet? Please be more than 98%.

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    How about a few from real life?

    You have neck problems that require medical attention from looking through your telescope at inconvenient angles.

    Your eye doctor yells at you for wearing your contact lens' for too many hours at a streatch.

    You've ever had a broken toe because you tripped over a telescope tripod in the dark.

    You've ever been punched in the eye because you tripped over a telescope tripod in the dark.

    Your doctor keeps toe splints, in your size, in stock.

    You know how to treat a black eye.

    You have the equation for calculating the Schwartzchild radius for any mass memorized.

    You can calculate a Schwartzchild radius for any mass in your head.

    Your daughters are named after the female characters from "A Midsumer Nights Dream".

    You never have to worry about your puppy making a mess on the carpet on clear nights.

    Your son's name is Titan.

    You refer to your wife as W-1 (or 2 etc.)

    You have a telescope that was mistaken for a military weapon by the local police.

    You enjoy participating in the making of lists like this one.

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    Re: You know you're an amateur astronomer if...

    Quote Originally Posted by Zap
    ... you stop to check on something at the observatory while you are on a date.
    Amateur astronomers have dates?

    :: ducking and running ::

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zap
    you've caught errors on this list (if so, please let me know)
    Well, if you inisist:
    you can quote the average distance of an Astronomical Unit from memory
    There's no such thing as the "average" distance of an Astronomical Unit, because it's fixed at precisely 149 597 870.691 kilometers. It's defined as the radius of a Keplerian circular orbit of a point-mass having an orbital period of 2*(pi)/k days, where k is the Gaussian gravitational constant. (Since an AU is based on radius of a circular orbit, one AU is actually slightly less than the average distance between the Earth and the Sun.)

    Carry on.

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    I thought this one was hysterical:

    "Someone calls you a "wimp" and you wonder what dark matter has to do with anything."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Russ
    You have a telescope that was mistaken for a military weapon by the local police.
    Similarly, you've worried that the guy with the sidearm at customs is gonna make you open your carefully packed and secured tube case to prove you're not smuggling a rocket launcher across the border.

    You're wearing long sleeves, long pants, and a hood at 3:00 a.m. on a hot August night because the mosquitos are thick, but the sky is clear.

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    .....You have an agreement with your neighbor that you can unscrew her garage lightbulb every time you observe.


    I had a friend that did that as long as she would screw it back in when she was done. Unfortunitly, my neighbors won't allow it. And it wouldn't help because I have an apartment complex right behind me.

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    You can pronounce Chandrasekhar, Chicxulub, Schwarzschild, and Hyakutake

    You can spell Chandrasekhar, Chicxulub, Schwarzschild, and Hyakutake

    You know why you'd want to spell or pronounce Chandrasekhar, Chicxulub, Schwarzschild, or Hyakutake
    I believe we should add Quaoar to this list.

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    Whats going on here?
    ... you sleep with the pillow under your shoulders, not under your head.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Melanie
    Whats going on here?
    ... you sleep with the pillow under your shoulders, not under your head.
    Because your neck and shoulders are permanently deformed by hours of craning your head around to see through a finder scope pointed directly overhead. Need a new finder scope.

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    In all fairness, nearly all the lines regarding lack of sleep also apply to college students. Well, engineering students at least; I can't vouch for other fields of study.

    ...when a severe ice storm comes through the area in winter, leaving the area in a pitch black power blackout, and you feel a little disappointed when electricity is restored because all the city lights come back on.

    ...when you hang around websites that have the word 'astronomy' in their title.

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    . . . you've ever misspelled the word "planarian" so that it reads "planetarium."

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    ... you do something like this as a spare-time hobby. ops:

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    Is that your website, tracer? Very nice. The blushing smiley is totally unnecessary. :wink:

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    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    ... you do something like this as a spare-time hobby. ops:
    Now that's pretty neat. I did a search on the zero coordinates just to get an idea of what a results search looks like. I noticed that Alpha Centauri has an age of 4.2 Billion years - similar to the Sun's. That's interesting because I've always wondered how many other stars formed with the Sun out of the same nebula (if any did). So is Alpha Centauri a sibling star so to speak or just a passerby at this time?

    Oops - that's off topic. Should I start a new thread on that or does someone have a quick answer?

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    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    ... you do something like this as a spare-time hobby. ops:
    I still can't find the B9IV type stars. :-?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dgruss23
    I noticed that Alpha Centauri has an age of 4.2 Billion years - similar to the Sun's. That's interesting because I've always wondered how many other stars formed with the Sun out of the same nebula (if any did). So is Alpha Centauri a sibling star so to speak or just a passerby at this time?

    Oops - that's off topic. Should I start a new thread on that or does someone have a quick answer?
    I don't know. How's that for a quick answer? I did read somewhere that the Sun is part of the Ursa Major moving group, a loose association of many (but not all) of the stars in Ursa Major which are travelling through space in roughtly the same direction. I gather that this implies membership in a common open cluster, and common origin, at some time in the distant past. I do not recall any mention of Alpha Centauri.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickenmeyer
    Quote Originally Posted by dgruss23
    I noticed that Alpha Centauri has an age of 4.2 Billion years - similar to the Sun's. That's interesting because I've always wondered how many other stars formed with the Sun out of the same nebula (if any did). So is Alpha Centauri a sibling star so to speak or just a passerby at this time?

    Oops - that's off topic. Should I start a new thread on that or does someone have a quick answer?
    I don't know. How's that for a quick answer? I did read somewhere that the Sun is part of the Ursa Major moving group, a loose association of many (but not all) of the stars in Ursa Major which are travelling through space in roughtly the same direction. I gather that this implies membership in a common open cluster, and common origin, at some time in the distant past. I do not recall any mention of Alpha Centauri.
    I don't know about Alpha Centauri, but I have seen Sirius listed as a member of the UMa mg.

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    You have a telescope that was mistaken for a military weapon by the local police.
    I haven't had that happen, but I did have a squad (in full riot gear) bust into the college observatory in the middle of a half hour guided exposure, because somebody noticed that the dome was open at 2 a.m.

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    ...when after three hours at the scope following three hours of sleep your eyes begin to water and in your sleep deprived state you wonder if hooking up the dew zapper to your eyelids would help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom
    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    ... you do something like this as a spare-time hobby. ops:
    I still can't find the B9IV type stars. :-?
    Well, of course not -- I haven't rigged up the database to allow you to search on spectral class yet. (This is because spectral classes are currently stored as arbitrary strings, and can include funny things like "G-K" or "G0/G3", which a conventional search for "G2" would miss.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    Quote Originally Posted by Zap
    you've caught errors on this list (if so, please let me know)
    Well, if you inisist:
    you can quote the average distance of an Astronomical Unit from memory
    There's no such thing as the "average" distance of an Astronomical Unit, because it's fixed at precisely 149 597 870.691 kilometers. It's defined as the radius of a Keplerian circular orbit of a point-mass having an orbital period of 2*(pi)/k days, where k is the Gaussian gravitational constant. (Since an AU is based on radius of a circular orbit, one AU is actually slightly less than the average distance between the Earth and the Sun.)

    Carry on.
    I was flattered when I discovered my site had been quoted in here.

    Tracer, thanks for the info. I was unaware that the AU had been fixed (my research centers on variable stars, so it's not something I've cared about too much). I'll be sure to update the list when I get a chance (don't hold your breath, though--I haven't had much time to attend to the site in a while).

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    okay, here's the thing--a lot of those apply to me, and we all know my astronomical abilities. (what was that bright blue thing at zenith Friday night at about 10-ish in Wauna, WA, and how would I find out?)

    as agreed, all sleep-dep ones can refer to college students. as for a lot of the others, well, I collect knowledge like a jackdaw, and the very act of hanging around you guys has let me pick up on a lot of it. (to give you some idea, real world, I am the one with science knowledge.)
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