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The Joys of Astronomy

Updated on July 15, 2013

I've always had a mild interest in astronomy, but it never really clicked until I entered college. When I was in 4th grade, I pretended I was from the planet Mercury, and I had been to a few star gazing events in my childhood, but that was pretty much the extent of my understanding of the subject. When choosing what science to take to fulfill my general education requirements in my sophomore year of college, I had to choose between biology and astronomy. It was a pretty easy choice, since I had biology two years prior and did not care for much of it. I ended up having a fairly laid back instructor for my first astronomy class, and her love of the subject ended up rubbing off on me, as I proceeded to take the advanced astronomy class the following semester. In that first year, we learned all about our solar system and what lies beyond. Our professor encouraged creativity and alternative learning methods, so quite a few of our classes involved debates, games, experiments (in one class activity, we were able to make homemade comet), and random clips from various Star Trek television series.

Although having a passionate, creative professor is a great way to make astronomy more interesting and enjoyable, the probability of finding a similar scenario may be slim (at least on the college level). However, that doesn't mean there aren't ways to make astronomy fun to learn. You can try exploring different websites for space related games and experiments (such as the previously mentioned comet recipe), attend local star and planet gazing events, read the last couple of chapters in an astronomy textbook (whenever I would get bored learning about the light spectrum, this always worked for me, particularly chapters about black holes, extraterrestrial life, and end of the universe theories), or put it into an art form (such as stories, poetry and drawings). Our semester project for that class inspired me to write a short science-fiction story involving alternate solar systems and wormholes. Similarly, each exam had a section where you could write a commercial or story related to the material, and these questions inspired a small collection of pseudo educational shorts which I called Timmy and the Professor (I put the original in another hub). If you have any desire to learn astronomy, or if you want something to make the material more enjoyable, these ideas may help. If not, you can always doodle or check the backs of your eyelids till the class ends.

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