Kate Becker @kmbecker
A disturbing definition of what it means to be an "astronomy enthusiast" - http://ow.ly/dJ95f
How could I resist looking at that URL? I expected to read about someone making fun of astronomers for being nerds or lacking fashion sense, but I found something quite different. The link is to a casting call web-site for reality TV shows, and the article's title is "MAJOR REALITY CABLE NETWORK SHOW SEEKS ASTRONOMY ENTHUSIASTS FOR RACHEL, NV FILMING". You can read the article yourself, but here's how it starts:
"Do you love watching the stars? Have you been down the Extraterrestrial Highway? Are you passionate about UFO watching? Have you ever wondered what goes on at the infamous AREA 51?"
It then goes on to mention two more times that they're seeking "ASTRONOMY ENTHUSIASTS" (their capitalization).
Who wrote this crap? I tweeted a complaint about the article and only a few minutes later *actual* astronomy enthusiasts started expressing their astonishment, even though it was late on a Friday afternoon. The irony of course is that this is supposed to be about "reality" TV, not fictional TV. They also didn't name the show - apparently in its 3rd season - which makes me wonder what's too embarrassing or off-putting about the show to mention, when their standards are low enough to link astronomy to UFOs.
A quick message to the show's producers: the "X-Files" was not a documentary. The movie "Armageddon" was science fiction, of the bad variety. "Contact" was a much better science fiction movie, and although it involved alien intelligence, no actual UFOs came to visit the Earth.
Here are some UFOs that real astronomers are interested in: "Ultra Fast Outflows" from rapidly growing black holes. How's that for a cheeky abbreviation?
What about a galaxy that looks like a UFO? It's clear that astronomers have a sense of humor.
Forget about Area 51. When I think of the number 51 in astronomy I think of M51, otherwise known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, a beautiful spiral:
|M51: Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI), and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)|
Astronomers have a diverse set of interests and beliefs, and sometimes they can be eccentric, but one thing they don't support is fantasy and pseudoscience. I think the same applies to the vast majority of real astronomy enthusiasts, whether they are professional, amateurs or fans.
I leave you with a real flying saucer visiting another planet:
|Mars Heat Shield in Detail. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS|