Sunday, 11 November 2012

Travelling to Betelgeuse

Let this come as a warning to you, or the announcement that if you embark on home ed, you're probably going to have one of the best times of your life.

Home ed can lead you to places you never thought you'd tread. Stars included. Because oh yes oh yes I am now to become a proud member of the local astronomy club.

This is Squirrel's fault. She is the one who has become unsafe around moon orbits.

Me, I know nothing about astronomy. Except the world is peopled by loony tunes, conspiracy theorists, the social misaligned, the painfully shy and people who dress up like Captain Kirk, and I bet most of them are taking photographs of Jupiter.

The geology? I can handle that. It is under my feet and I can see it, pick it up and chew it. And I can bluff my way around limestone for a good eight seconds before I'm busted as a complete fraud. That record I am proud of. Okay, don't ask me any tricksy questions involving millions of years and marble, then expect an informed answer. You might get a blank stare and slight dribble, but let's say that if I am caught in conversation with someone who actually knows what they're talking about, then I can do good! So long as I make that conversation come in at 7.5 seconds.

But astronomy? No no no no. Not even for one second. Mention a constellation, and watch the eyes glaze while the zombie brain leaks out the ears. It doesn't matter how many times I'm told. Star stuff does not go in. After years of tuition from Big Bro, the one who has his head in the stars, I remain at a level which begins, There are stars! They're so pretty! Look how they twinkle! Names? What, like Patrick Moore and The Saucepan? Now that is enough. I need to lie down somewhere warm and recover.

Which is an odd way to begin my career as an amateur astronomer, but there we have it. Home education leads you to places you never thought you'd go. In my case, to a large room once a fortnight to meet a strange assortment of people. One of them shows us a picture of his breakfast and says M2 Ib is his friend.

Let's look on the bright side. He hadn't fixed on plastic ears to look like Mr Spock.

Discovering my great ignorance, starting simple.

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