In the world of science communication, astronomy is the true crowd pleaser. From deep space images of countless galaxies to musings about alien life, it’s a field of science that is remarkably easy to pique the public’s interest in, even if they often don’t understand the intricacies of the science.
In other words, space stories are cool.
But, according to a new story project Astro Anecdotes, just like any field, astronomy also has its share of stories different from the usual inspirational fare:
“[A]stronomy is also a world of ad hoc solutions, bizzare fixes using whatever was available at the time, “discoveries” and strange incidents in remote corners of the world. Stories that are normally just passed around by word of mouth. This site is an attempt to collect and publish these stories, showing “the other side” of astrophysics, which will hopefully make you both laugh and think.”
As astrophysicist Amanda Bauer puts it, these stories are pub folklore.
— ★ amanda bauer ★ (@astropixie) April 13, 2015
Like the one time a rotating telescope building dented a pick-up truck without warning. Or the time when the Pope ruined some observations. Or the really interesting piece of astronomy equipment you’ve never heard of, jerry-rigged together from lego blocks.
I love not just the stories on Astro Anecdotes, but the very concept itself. That the scientific process is not just the glory of a mind-blowing discovery, or even the publication of interesting results, or even just the tedious day-to-day laboratory work. It is also just… everyday stuff, ranging from mistakes, to accidents, to funny fixes. It’s life. I’d love to see more story projects like this from other fields of science. Harnessing the power of storytelling is one of the best ways to engage and teach.
And the best part is that, through these stories, you will learn something more about astronomy, too.