Could you or someone you love actually be an astronomer? There are tell-tale warning signs, try our exciting quiz to discover if you are one of these creatures of the night!
Amateur Astronomy is a fascinating and rewarding hobby, enjoyed by people from all walks of life and all ages. It is so fashionable at the moment that many of the coolest celebrities want to get in on the act. For example, Johnny Depp, Rihanna, Natalie Portman and Robert Downey Jr are all very keen observers, well-known for spending nights in their back gardens dressed up in anoraks and scarves, fighting off the cold with sips from flasks of cuppa-soup as they carefully sketch craters along the Moon’s terminator or plot light curves of variable stars.
If you believed that, then I have a genuine piece of the Roswell UFO you might want to buy (for a modest fee)! As far as I know none these people are amateur astronomers, however there are some celebrities who are genuinely into astronomy. They tend not to be major Hollywood celebs though. The list includes (and pretty well consists entirely of) guitarist Brian May, the late xylophonist Patrick Moore, fantasy author Terry Pratchett, pianist/popstar/presenter Mylene Klass and high school principal and cartoon character Seymour Skinner.
Amateur astronomers do seem to have an image problem. So do you ever worry that you may be astronomically-inclined? Try my fun quiz to find out! (Score 1 for every time you answer (a), 0 every time you answer (b), 2 for every (c) and 10 for every (d))
1. How many telescopes do you own?
c. You’re not sure, so you’ll have to count them.
2. What are you normally doing at 1 am in the morning?
a. Sleeping in a nice cosy bed.
c. Obtaining a CCD image of M42 through a hydrogen-alpha filter.
3. It’s a lovely sunny day. What should you do?
a. Spend the afternoon in the garden, but taking care not to receive a nasty dose of sunburn.
b. Spend the day at the beach working on your tan.
c. Get out the solarscope to count the number of sunspots and see if any prominences are visible.
4. Which of these publications do you read regularly?
a. ‘White Dwarf Magazine’.
b. ‘The Daily Star’.
c.‘Sky and Telescope’.
5. Which of these DVDs do you own?
a. ‘Apollo 13’.
c.‘Ian Littlewood’s guide to equatorial mounted telescopes’.
d.You never watch DVDs as you’re always outside observing.
6. What is your opinion of Alt-Azimuth?
a. His sci-fi novels about robots were great, and his popular science books are still worth checking out. Oops! No, that’s Isaac Asimov!
b. Er…I don’t know, can you repeat the question?
c. Alt-Azimuth mounts are great for small scopes, but for astrophotography you really need an equatorial mount.
7. What are the Rosette, The Horsehead and the Helix?
b. Er…are they pubs?
c. Nebulae, but to me they’ll always be M27, Barnard 33 and NGC 7293
0-5 Congratulations! You are either too cool or too lazy be mistaken for an astronomer!
6-10 Oh dear! You may be teetering on the brink of astronomy. Do not give in to the Dork Side! Come back to the light before its too late!
11 or more. You spend all the hours of darkness outdoors and are obsessed with the phases of the Moon. You are either an astronomer or a werewolf!