Adventures in Public Outreach

This is my new blog, dedicated to my various astronomy and science outreach activities, and some of the weird and wonderful people and things I encounter along the way.

The blog’s name comes from a common refrain I hear in phone calls I receive as an astronomer: “I wouldn’t normally call, but I saw this bright light in the sky this morning…” is how they often begin. The answer is usually Venus, but for many people, this is not good enough. Thankfully I’ve only ever had one person get a bit aggressive, but he soon got sick of me and I haven’t heard from him since.

The other query I often get is about Nibiru, a “brown dwarf” which is supposedly entering the Solar System on a collision course with Earth. THIS IS NOT REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN. Funnily enough, the first time I was asked about this about 15 years ago, it was a large comet, the next time a planet, then a brown dwarf… and recently someone asked me if I knew anything about a red dwarf coming this way. The internet has a lot to answer for.

I should say that I welcome these queries: it’s a chance to set the record straight, and it shows that people are genuinely interested in space and astronomy. But sometimes I wish I had a pre-recorded message I could play…


About drsimmo

I'm an astronomer and science communicator, these are my adventures. Views posted are my own.
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8 Responses to Adventures in Public Outreach

  1. Great idea, Dr Simmo. Will be tuning in.

  2. Welcome to this new adventure! I’m sure you’ll like a lot to do this. Remember to “tweet” every single new post you write in here!

    I should start publicizing my new blog too, this time I’m writing in English! I have had the idea since I came to Australia in 2007 but never dared to really start another blog. In the last few months I realized that this is important for me, so I did it. Now I’m compiling some stories before open it to everyone.

    Cheers from the control room of the Anglo-Australian Telescope!

    • Thanks Angel!

      This actually my second blog, I have one over at tumblr as well, which needs more time and effort put into it than this does. This is almost (but not quite) like a journal. And as you do, I have several stories/ideas all ready to go. 🙂

  3. John L Morgan says:

    Simon, if you had a pre-recorded message no one in the office would be able to hear the humorous patience with which you deal with these queries. Now ,about that imminent collision …

  4. Lara says:

    I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a blog like this for years, but I never have gotten around to it. Just from your first post though I can see that some of the questions, callers, etc. in astronomy outreach are pretty “universal” – if you’ll pardon the pun. 🙂

    • I have no doubt that the things that people ask are similar the world over. Working at a small observatory in Germany for a few years showed me this! (I only wish my German was more up to the task!)

      Oh and puns are more than welcome here! 😀

  5. Pingback: Why there’s no such thing as a stupid question | I Wouldn't Normally Call

  6. Pingback: One day you’re gonna look up at the sky and open your eyes! | I Wouldn't Normally Call

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