Why You Need to Take Astronomy

Astronomy 005. The format of this twice-a-week lecture capped at 150 has changed several times, but I can probably envision this fall’s class pretty accurately.A semifull Angell lecture hall, where the front, lower half of the room closest to the teacher actually tries to understand – or at least listen to – the explanation of the equation constituting the Chandresekhar limit. Meanwhile, the more physically elevated students in the back of the room make seating charts to plan a forti-fied network of oh-so-subtle information passing during the next quiz.Most students (particularly majors in the school of Arts not Sciences) sign up for “Exploring the Cosmos” as an easy and “maybe sort of interesting” way to fulfill the science requirement, with minimal math contact. Yet introductory Astronomy ends up being an utter disaster for a lot of students, from the bewildered English majors in the front section to the stragglers that do not manage to integrate themselves into the established cheating vectors in the rear. I even have some friends at other schools whose attempted forays into Astronomy failed miserably; among those who have embarked on the journey, the general consensus seems to be that intro Astronomy courses “suck” for whatever multitude of reasons: the combined nuances of physics, chemistry and math; difficulty grasping the mind-bogglingly big concepts of our mind-bogglingly big universe; reading and homework.Astronomy friends, I am here to tell you that I have seen the light. If you couldn’t really hack it ASTR 005, don’t let it discourage the pursuit of your interest, however slight, in something you know you thought was cool (black holes). I haven’t touched math in five years, barely got a B minus in 005, and now I’m rocking out in ASTR 195 + 5 = 200!!So, if you: look up at a clear sky sometimes at night and say, “Wow, there are a lot of stars”; are from a city and didn’t really know that there are a lot of stars; like to go camping; read your non-Water tower horoscope; are religious; are in any CDAE class; have dabbled (however secretly) in any sci fi; think explosions are cool; have ever been or want to be abducted by aliens; are into alternative ways of expanding your mind; consider yourself an aloof intellectual or are a wannabe, ASTRONOMY IS FOR YOU.The Astronomy department at UVM is so tiny you can’t even find it on UVM’s “A to Z” listing of supposedly everything. A subset of the Physics department, it is comprised of only three professors, all of whom are rad – a hologram maker, a would-be stand up comedian, and calendar aficionado – and posses awesome amounts of understanding, knowledge, experience and, most importantly, interest in their field. Did you know: there is a “cosmic sym-phony at the heart of all reality?” Sign up for an Astronomy class at UVM and begin to understand this and nothing less than your whole life.