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Science

A Short Guide to Doing Astronomy in a City

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Astronomy is one of the world’s greatest sciences. As old as humanity, it’s the only field of science where amateurs and professionals are treated as equals. You don’t need much to be an astronomer, just a telescope and a willingness to look up. However, I live in a city, and no matter how much you want to you can’t do astronomy in a city.

It’s not that the night sky is not there. The stars shine as they always do. The problem with living in a city is the city lights. Light pollution is a big deal that no one wants to talk about. It robs you of the night sky, and it puts nature out of balance. The lights block your view of everything except the brightest objects in the sky. The solution is to simply turn the lights off, but that’s political suicide. Those same lights deter crime, and no one wants that. Because of this, an astronomer living in a city has to find alternate ways to see the night sky.

Join your local astronomy association

The first thing you can do is join your local astronomy association. These associations often own observatories in rural outlying suburbs that you can use. They also offer networking, astronomical discussions, and community events that you can participate in.

Be a theorist

If you got a lot of ideas, and enjoy math, you can become an astronomy theorist. Theorists develop ideas about how the universe works using logic as well as what we already know about the universe. You can get started by joining your local astronomical association or a few online discussions groups and join in the conversation.

Make Simulations

If you have computer programming skills, you can be simulation programmer. Simulation is a growing field of research in many sciences, not just astronomy. Simulations are used to check theories and other ideas when physical experimentation or observations cannot be done, or are difficult to conduct. If you can’t see the night sky outside your own window, then put it on your home computer instead!

Do solar astronomy

If all fails, you can always look towards the sun. Solar astronomy is conducted during the day, and such can be done anywhere even inside a city.

City living may dampen your desire to be an astronomer, but it doesn’t have to stop you either. There are many ways to do astronomy while still living in a city if you know where to look. If nothing else, you can be a space activist, and educate people about space and astronomy while working to reduce the light pollution in your area. Either way, enjoy the night sky.


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