Tuesday, February 18, 2014

stars deserve more attention


As we were told in “Stairway To Heaven”, ‘cause you know sometimes words have two meanings, you might be thinking of the wrong type of star.

The stars needing more attention are those all around us. Most noticeable on a clear night. However our most important star, our sun, is out for us in the day (hopefully our sun being a star is not a news flash for anyone here).

NEWS FLASH - Earth’s orbit around the sun - misunderstood (or unknown) by too many!

For all of recorded time the earth has been taking a yearly trip around the sun. Yes, the orbit is not very noticeable on a daily basis. Even the top thinkers back in Greece got details of this celestial movement wrong.  But that was well over a thousand years ago.  Hundreds of years ago,
Galileo pointed his telescope up at the sky and started to straighten out this solar system operation.

According to a recent survey (2012), about 25% (that’s 1 in 4 ) of Americans got the question about the earth-sun orbit wrong. The survey included more than 2,200 people in the United States and was conducted by the National Science Foundation. The question was: Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth?
(you can find the whole NSF report here)

There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see. Leonardo da Vinci. BrainyQuote.com

Today we can add a fourth class, those who don't look up from their smartphones long to see the world around them.

Today with international space programs, a space telescope providing amazing photos, internet accessible space news and findings, regular monitoring of our star (the sun), I would think only a  small percentage of Americans would have any problem with that question. Are we really staring down at smartphones too much?

Ooh, it makes me wonder, 

Ooh, it really makes me wonder.

Sure I know my wonder of physics and universe is not shared by even the majority (I guess?) but doesn’t a little of this knowledge intrigue people? Physics can get complex quickly. Going out in the sun for too long can get you a quick sunburn too. Is a good tan, all that some want to know about our star?

Yes, there are two paths you can go by, 

but in the long run 
There's still time to change the road you're on.

I suggest to those of the 25%, put down your smartphone, find a dark area on a clear night and look up. Hopefully, those stars will trigger a little curiosity. Check out some educational videos on youtube. Check out a book. Here’s a great youtube clip, I found packed with good info.


Joanne said...

I drive an E-W road for the many school related activities of three granchildren, They are very aware of the earth's rotational axis as it pertains to the sun being in our eyes these winter evenings. I pick my grandson up around 4-30 and head west. I am pleased to report the sun was high enough above the horizon not to blind us last Thursday, a pleasant change over one week.

lisleman said...

The angle of the rising/setting sun is noticeable if you bother to remember where you noticed it a week or so ago. That's a good point. I've seen pictures of NYC where on a certain day (I guess twice a year?) the sun lines up with the east-west streets. I think the problem is people not bothering to notice the wonder around them.

thanks - (keep that sun out of your repaired eyes)

Secret Agent Woman said...

I read in a news article about that that 34% of Europeans surveyed got it wrong. So the ignorance is global.

lisleman said...

Yeah I don't really know about non-US but I think you are right about the lack of knowledge on this as being widespread. Now in developing countries with limited public education I would expect common citizens not to know. I thought a developed nation in today's connected world should have a better understanding of it than only 75% or so. Light pollution doesn't help either.

HMS said...

Bill, we'd like to invite you to become one of our Authors in Alexandria. This invitation has been extended to you by email as well.

In addition to posting on anything you wish, as you desire, you may of course mirror posts you've already written from here or elsewhere to gain a different or additional audience or for any other reason that appeals to you.

If you think you might be interested, contact me through Alexandria or by return email via this comment and I'll forward our formal invitations for you to look over and return if you decide to proceed.

Come contribute your perspectives and opinions to the ongoing conversations there or, even better, start some new - and different - ones of your own.

I look forward to hearing from you.

H. M. Stuart

lisleman said...

Thanks for the invite but I'm not currently interested.

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