We spend most of our lives only thinking Earth thoughts. What do I want to be when I grow up? Where will I live? What do I want to eat for breakfast? This isn’t surprising, given that we’ve created such complex and involved lives and societies on our planet. There’s enough down here to keep us preoccupied for decades. Sometimes, though, it’s important to remember to look up. Because when you do, you’ll realize that you’re a small dot on a small dot in a universe that might very well be infinitely vast. To truly understand the scale, some knowledge of astronomy is recommended. Here’s how to teach yourself about planets, stars, and galaxies:
You can learn a lot by simply looking up. After all, that’s how our ancestors got started. You don’t need to know a single thing about astronomy to be able to appreciate the sight of the stars. Of course, if you want to, you can download a star map and let it act as your guide. Become familiar with the location of large stars and the planets, identify as many constellations as you can, and simply get to know the night sky.
2. Read every resource you can find.
There are so many books on astronomy, it’s almost overwhelming. From expansive texts that cover every topic from Alpha Centauri to the Zeeman Effect, to bite-sized coffee table books that will give you a brief overview, you can find hundreds if not thousands of reliable resources. Even better, you can “customize” your self-teaching program based on what you want to know more about. If stargazing interests you, find beginner stargazing books. If you are leaning towards astrophysics, get a college 101 textbook. If reading isn’t your think (and it doesn’t have to be), look for documentaries on streaming sites that cover astronomy topics. Youtube has also become an excellent resource. You can find lectures from well-known colleges and short videos by astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts.
3. Keep up with current research.
Astronomy is always evolving and changing with every passing year. Each time we make a new discovery, it opens up our eyes a little more and allows us to glimpse additional pieces of the universe we didn’t know were there. By learning about the astronomy research taking place today, you can have a better understanding of where the field is headed, not just where it has been.