Friday, 26 August 2011

Astronomy - a dream job

When I was around 12 to 15 years old I knew what I would like to do: become an astronomer, a stargazer.

That was largely before Hubble was launched giving us those gorgeous photos I coulnd't even dream of seeing. Nevertheless, there was open space, unlimited distance, the infinity, the idea of stars being light-years away from here.

Our little computer room. How do you like the desk top image on this 24" LED flat screen? On the wall are my flight simulator diplomas: my every-day-hobby.

Later it became obvious to me that my mathematical possibilities were next to a deflated tyre. In fact I dreaded the math classes in school, geometry, algebra, I was always a struggler, the rear guard and tried my best to be invisible to the teacher during those hours.

Professionally I had to do something else, no doubt about that. But the fascination remained. And there was something else about astronomy that would have made trouble. I don't like to stay awake at night. My daily adult life span ends at Midnight AT THE LATEST, to be continued happily next day.

Being obliged to stay awake during the small hours of next day, 1, 2, 3 o'clock in the morning: I hate that. As an astronomer I would have been compelled to become a Sun specialist, no doubt about that. But I am not that much interested in our Mother Star.

However, this love for astronomy brought me a lot of splendid hours. And it taught me a few important things and answered some questions:

- is there any sens in life, is there a destiny? No, there isn't. Look at those black holes, super novae and exploding and imploding stars, colliding galaxies. They come and go and we can do nothing about it.

- is there a superior being, a God, looking benevolently at you and me? No, there isn't, sorry for that. We are like the mice our cat is chasing day and night. If you have the right trajectory, you pass unscathed. If not..............

In about 2 billion years our galaxy the Milky Way will have a collision with the Andromeda Galaxy and in about 3 billion years they will have merged into a new, bigger one. Milky Way King Size. What does that mean to our Solar System and to our Earth? Nobody knows but all options are on the table.


  1. Hello Georg!!!!
    pas mal la vidéo!
    La musique "Inspecteur Derrick est un peu désagréable mais l'explication est claire.
    As tu pris le temps de regarder la voie lactée de chez toi? Le cantal est un site extraordinaire pour voir une quantité infinie d'étoiles.
    j'adore. sauf que lorsque nous étions sur place ce mois ci il y avait la pleine lune qui nous aveuglait. Et au mois de juillet les nuages étaient trop nombreux.
    bon week end.

  2. Bonjour Vincent,

    Tu confonds, mon ami. Ce n'est pas Inspector Derrick mais "Mission impossible". La Voie Lactée, oui je prends. Elle est juste au-dessus du Cantal, d'ailleurs pratiquement à la verticale de Marma. Chez nous, c'est pas la lune qui aveugle mais l'éclairage du bled. Personne dehors mais éclairé comme un jour de fête.


  3. Astronomy make one humble :)

  4. georg,
    I just made a comment but I'm not sure that it will show up, so I'm going to repeat it.

    I love Astronomy, I had the priviledge to see a shooting star once, it was awsome.

  5. Hallo Georgy,
    At first thought I was glad I won't be around when the collision happens. But then it probably won't be a long agony if I were... We won't have real prior warning anyhow (nothing travels faster than light, so we won't see it until it's pretty much on us).

    I do love to watch the constellations at night, though living near the San Diegan coast means that much of every night is obscured by the marine layer (the local brand of thick ground-hugging sea fog). :o( Was hoping to catch that spectacular lunar eclipse earlier in the year, but it rained most of the night then and I couldn't see anything. Hopefully the night sky in Chantal is clearer than here! :oD

    Looking at the stars and planets at night, do you wonder if there are other life on some of those doing the same thing and wondering the same thoughts?

    Summer cheers from California,
    Smorgy :o)

  6. To Hiva
    Yes, the universe demonstrates how unimportant we are

    To Exseno
    When you see a shooting star you have one wish. But you must wish at high speed, not afterwards.

    To Smorgy
    It might be insteresting to visualize the last hour or so. I imagine the gravity forces start to play when the two galaxies are dozens of lightyears away.

    On clear nights - and we have many - I can see the Milky Way clearly. We are living at about 2000 feet above sea level and there is not much light pollution.

    Considering the billions and billions of stars and let's say three times as much planets, yes there must be life elsewhere. But far away. We'll never meet, I fear.


  7. You have flight simulator diplomas? That is funny. We all need a hobby.

    I used to be fascinated with Astronomy as well, because I was always curious to know what was out there. There has to be some place to explore for every generation and the earth is getting pretty filled up.

    The more I learned about astronomy, the more it melds into physics. The understanding that if something is true here on earth, it has to be true on the other side of the galaxy, throw in the power of neutron stars and black holes and the universe is a very, very big place with a lot of unsolved mysteries.

    Once in a while I go up to a local observatory on a mountain top near where we live and gaze at the stars and realize we are just a micro organism in a very small Petri dish.

  8. To Bruce
    Flying a plane coorectly in a Flight Simulator is a very rewarding and thrilling experience. There must be hundred thousands of Flightsimmers out there, just have a look at YouTube.

    As to your remark about Astronomy and Physics: you are absolutely right. There is no astronomy without physics and mathematics.

    But there are some events out there we don't understand because it happens in space and never here on Mother Earth.


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  10. Great article thanks for writing it, I learned a lot from it and will try to implement it into my everyday life.

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