Meeting my inner astronomy geek

It is a well known fact that i am all kinds of geeky. I enjoy programming, i have a slightly suspicious interest in busses and trains, and i have recently become very interested in cosmology, quantum physics, parallel universes, string theory and a ten-dimensional universe! Well i think i have just discovered another geeky interest: astronomy!

It all started when i saw that planet on Friday morning, which as it happens was Venus, not Mercury. In actual fact, it probably started before then, when i read “The Whole Shebang” by Timothy Ferris. No, in actual fact i have been interested in the Moon and eclipses my whole life, in the same way as many people have a vague interest.

Anyway, i have a new test team leader now, who has moved to sit next to me, and turns out to be a total stargazer! I mentioned seeing the planet, and was immediately pointed to where you can enter your latitude and longitude, and it tells you exactly what to look for, at what times of the year/month/night – all the stars, planets and satellites you may see!

You can even calculate a map of the stars for any given time, which is how i know that the planet i saw was Venus. Here is the map on Saturday morning at 7am, and there was Venus, in the South-East, exactly where i saw it:

Sky chart for 24th November 2007 at 7am

Of course, there was Mercury, close to the Sun. That’s the position where the Sun rose on Saturday morning! It’s all starting to make sense! Oh, this is all kinds of awesome!!!

Apparently some kids take Astronomy GCSE!! Just like at Hogwarts!! Maybe that’s what i should do – join an evening class and study astronomy. I certainly find it fascinating, especially as you can even look out and see Andromeda, our nearest galaxy, who is like a twin to our Milky Way. But we see it as it was 3000 years ago. It’s exciting to think of intelligent life somewhere in Andromeda, who scan the heavens and look out to our galaxy, seeing the light that left us 3000 years ago! Quite amazing, in fact!

A telescope would be a pretty fantastic Christmas present! Or even a pair of binoculars would do well! :D