In my opinion, astronomy and cosmology are absolutely the most amazing, coolest subjects in existence. For a minute when I started college, I thought I wanted to be an astronomer. I ended up pursuing engineering and computer science instead due to concerns about whether or not I would be able to find a job, but I still love stargazing with my kids.
I’ve been fascinated by space since I was a child. I remember looking out at the stars when I ride in the backseat of my grandparents car on road trips as a kid. Looking at the starts would make me feel so insignificant and special all at the same time. I still remember the sense of awe I felt the very first time I saw a picture of the Eagle Nebula.
While in high school, I voluntarily took a summer school astronomy class at our local junior college and loved it. While unsure what I wanted to do with my life up to that point, after I read A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking when I was 16, I knew with absolute certainty that I wanted to be a scientist. Even when I started at Caltech, I initially declared my major as Astronomy. (My plan was essentially to be Jodie Foster from the movie Contact).
However, freshman astronomy at Caltech was not all that I dreamed it would be. Too much math. Not enough star-gazing. Although I ended up switching my major about 5 times, I still love astronomy. I actually ran into Stephen Hawking on campus and around Old Pasadena a few times and each time I practically hyperventilated. I can’t think of any celebrity that would make me as tongue tied as I was in those moments.
It’s important to me that my kids develop an appreciation for the universe of which we are a part. They don’t have to love astronomy and cosmology as much as I do, but I hope they at least understand the grand scale of the universe and how we earthlings really are connected much more than politics and world events would imply. I have plans to make lots of hands on material, so don’t forget to check back from time to time. (Or better yet, sign up for my newsletter to stay up-to-date.)
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