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Astronomers Anonymous: Getting Help with the Puzzles and by Steve Ringwood

By Steve Ringwood

In this wonderful parody of letters to a customary “lonely hearts” columnist, real-life specialist and long-time astronomy columnist Steve Ringwood offers a sweeping evaluation of universal questions and difficulties useful and novice astronomers face, compiled from Ringwood's personal stories on this planet of astronomy. His screamingly humorous reviews will maintain you guffawing out loud all through, so be cautious of interpreting this booklet in public! Written particularly for astronomers, but in addition available to an individual with an curiosity in area or astronomy, readers will simply realize the problems they face and luxuriate in the humor being directed at them and their science.

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Extra info for Astronomers Anonymous: Getting Help with the Puzzles and Pitfalls of Practical Astronomy

Example text

It is a complicated procedure involving ’the bearings’ (apparently, a serious operation). I have been told that the chances of it pulling through are 50/50. Do I wait and risk the condition worsening to the point of no return, or do I put it through the operation knowing that it may hasten the end? I have had the telescope for a long time, and it grieves me terribly to see it suffering in this way. I have even considered telenasia. I feel sure it knows there is something badly wrong, and of late I cannot bear to look it squarely in the lens (although I try to appear cheerful for its benefit).

It was simple in the beginning – as all things are. A lens clutched in each hand, held one behind the other, to gaze longingly through the portal of a lady’s bedroom. But people started mucking around with it. Extra lenses were added to improve the clarity, magnification, and field of view. Monstrous supports grew up of increasing complexity to simplify the chasing of sky-embedded wonders. Soon, parasitic devices were invented to squeeze every drop of observational blood from the telescope. Even the vulgar light itself was forcibly disembodied by spectroscopes to reveal its inner nature.

The telescope piers constructed to support the tube were found to be the wrong size, and the mounting had been engineered to the wrong latitude. Also, because of poorly designed mirror supports, stellar images were found to be distorted by the consequently deformed mirror. The observatory, designed to be completely open to the elements, allowed the wind to shake the telescope. In 1870 the astronomer in charge resigned. At the time, G. W. ’’ So the next time one of your new scopes misbehaves, think yourself lucky.

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