Heard at a star party…

These were collected over several public events at Fremont Peak.


Me: Would you like to hop up the ladder and look at Venus?

Guest: Sure!  <climbs ladder and looks through eyepiece>  Oh wow, that’s the moon!

Me: Uh.. no, that’s Venus. The moon is behind you.

Guest: It’s the moon,  I can see the moon!

Me: No, you’re seeing the planet Venus.  The moon is behind you.  Venus looks like a crescent right now, but it’s definitely Venus, not the moon. 

Guest: (looking dubious): Well it *looks* like the moon!

Guest (looking at the lagoon nebula): How come it’s not in color?

Me: It is, it’s just very faint color.  

Guest: I’ve seen color pictures like this, though!

Me: Yes, the pictures you see on the NASA website were mostly taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.  The HST doesn’t have to look through hundreds of miles of atmosphere.  Also, a lot of  the photographs you see from the Hubble Space Telescope are in false color.  If you were to put a camera on this telescope and let it take a long exposure, say 30 minutes, of this nebula, you’d be able to see some color too.

Guest (Referring to the 30-inch Challenger): This must not be a very good telescope!

Guest: What’s the brightest star in the sky?

Me: The Sun.

Guest: What? The Sun’s not a star!

Guest: Is the Sun in our solar system?

More to come…

5 thoughts on “Heard at a star party…

  1. Sounds like a typical public night at our observatory.

    Especially the Venus bit, as when we showed it off a few weeks ago, even after telling people it was Venus, one out of five people looked through our 16-inch SCT and said “wow, the moon.”

  2. You would think that someone who goes to an observatory to look at the planets and stars and other objects would have at least a passing familiarity with astronomical concepts. I’m not a “real” astronomer, and neither are most of the volunteers who attend events, but sometimes we hear things come out of the mouths of guests that make us shake our heads.

    On the other hand, when you get a kid up on the ladder looking at Saturn for the first time, and you get that “Oh, WOW” reaction, it’s all worth it.

  3. Pingback: AstroGeek Buhhhhh….. WHAT??? «

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