(meteorobs) Why don't more amateurs get it? (Meteors, that is.)

Robin Gray sevenvalleysent at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 20 12:08:03 EDT 2007

I didn't see the PBS special, but the reason that
people don't turn on to meteors has interested me for
a long time. I've had each of my three kids out
observing meteors with me but it didn't catch with
them at all. I've tried exposing them to as many of
the wonders of science and the natural world as I
could and none of it has interested them. Friends and
social matters absorb them to the exclusion of
everything else. My grandfather was an entomologist,
my mother a botanist, and I am an entomologist. I've
dropped the flag, that line ends here. My kids should
be at least a little like me, but they have run from
all science, including meteor observation.
To me science, including meteor observation is about
curiosity, awe, wonder, beauty, getting closer to the
Universe through knowledge and experience, and its a
deeply spiritual experience as well. If it is too cold
outside, then get a warmer sleeping bag. But don't
miss the experience.

Robin Gray

--- Lew.Gramer at noaa.gov wrote:

> I just finished watching Timothy Ferris' hour-long
> PBS (US publicly
> supported television) special, "Seeing in the Dark",
> based on his
> well known and beautifully written book of the same
> name.
> I really enjoyed his view of amateur astronomy and
> it's many joys.
> I also enjoyed seeing Barbara Wilson, Steve O'Meara
> and others
> who I've met over the years, sharing their passion
> for the hobby.
> Ferris spent considerable time talking about
> amateurs' increasing
> contributions to the SCIENCE of astronomy... He
> spent much of his
> one hour in fact presenting many tools - from
> computer-controlled
> scopes, to CCDs - that amateurs use to contribute to
> science. And
> he even filmed O'Meara describing his elation when
> he discovered
> the spokes of Saturn's rings many years ago,
> *visually*.
> All of this... and Mr. Ferris did not once mention
> meteors... Not the
> profound, serene simplicity of basking in a
> beautiful night sky with
> the unaided eye. Nor any mention of the central,
> almost dominant
> role we amateurs have played in the science of
> meteors either!
> Somehow, in this on-air paean to all things amateur
> astronomy,
> Mr. Ferris just did not GET IT. And thousands (maybe
> millions?)
> of other potential future amateurs who view this
> program won't
> probably ever "get it" either, as a result.
> During this relatively quiet period of
> mid-September, I wanted to
> put a question to our forum: why is it, that
> something so simple,
> so easy, so beautiful, so significant, and so FUN,
> simply fails to
> capture the imagination of most newcomers to
> astronomy? Why
> aren't ALL our fellow amateurs out there with lawn
> chairs, before
> they even pick up their first pair of binoculars?
> What is missing?
> I look forward to hearing others' views...
> Clear skies all,
> Lew Gramer
> ---
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Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha! Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at Yahoo! Games.

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