Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gumby & Pokey Astronomy

My two favorite TV characters growing up. I would dream about being in their world of clay partaking in their adventures, dueling with the Blockheads, model car racing, toy trucks, entering into books, cookies & milk from my loving mother, dad's sound advice and timely rescues from trouble. Can they teach us something about backyard astronomy?

Be flexible: this pursuit requires patience both with yourself & nature AND SOMETIMES WITH OTHER PEOPLE. You have the rest of your life to learn this subject so pace yourself. Weather will not always be your friend so use the web, read a good astronomy book. The Moon is not your enemy - learn it and unlock it's treasures. I have missed events over the years due to sickness, weather, broken telescopes, just plain bad luck. Don't worry things tend to come around! These two characters could shape shift in any situation they were in. Can we?


Use what you have: yes you heard me, use what is right at hand at this moment. We can maximize what we have available to us. You want a bigger, better scope? Great - but "max observe" the one you have. I have surveyed the sky with all kinds of stuff and I always get something good no matter what I am looking through. This includes the sky conditions, moon cycle etc. Maybe I can see only a few bright stars, OK pull out a book or do a online search and learn about these stars. Star names and astronomical history are one of my favorite things to study when seeing is less than optimal. Yes we can do great observing with simple equipment and gear, star wheels, binoculars, a book in hand. I have never owned high end stuff and after all these years I still have not "max observed" with what I have. These clay guys always always got into trouble when they did not appreciate and use what they had and were.


Approach with childlike wonder: you have nothing to prove to anyone. The race here is not for the swift, the smart or educated. It is your pursuit. I love learning, but I really like to be inspired. As an adult this is my time to go back in time and touch a part of my life that will not go away. And if you are of the swift, smart, educated ranks be a kid from time to time and you will enjoy yourself even more. My claymation buds of the past where not afraid to try new things and go places and did not loose their sense of adventure.


Place yourself out there: when I observe I imagine being there. What is the view like from the center of a planetary nebula, or from a moon of a gas giant? How many stars can I see inside a globular cluster? What is the view like from the surface of the neutron star - very round and smooth I imagine as I am flattened out by immense gravity like Gumby under a giant rolling pin! Go there!


Get some help when stuck: so important as we all get stuck from time to time. I have fond memories of folks that have helped my development in the past and those that do this now. Both Gumby and Pokey depended upon each other and a whole host of characters through their clay world exploits. I need the experience, and skill of others to help me along too.


Have big eyes: these two TV characters have big eyes in portion to their bodies. When looking take your time in your viewing, unless you are in marathon mode! Let your eyes gather the light from these far flung vistas and give time for your brain and imagination to make a picture for you. It is outstanding to say the least what you can see over time and with consistency.



Share it with another: oh yes my friends share it! I realize not everyone is a people person but sometimes we get in the way of others development because of our own selfishness instead of taking some time and possible inconvenience sharing the universe with others. We all need personal time & pursuits but have you shared this with another? A little effort goes a long way and may change a life and you may make a new friend in the process and discover new things about yourself as we never grow in isolation. I would always be amused when Gumby would divided himself up into several little balls at one time, we have the potential to experiment with ourselves and develop other areas of our lives. I find that there is always plenty of me to go around. I enjoy to no end sharing what I have learned, showing what I have seen, spreading a little cheer to someone else. All of us have our ways and can find ways of sharing our experience, passion, expertise, and resources with another - just do it!

11 comments:

Marc said...

If Gumby owned a telescope...it would be a Pronto...

Sorry, resistance wasn't very futile...

Nice post...we need to hear that from time to time throughout the grind of life.

Maxed out a 102mm Refractor...hardly, I'm just scratching the surface of what you can do with it.

I have realized that when I am asked that tired and worn out question, "is there anything *special happening* tonight"...my reply was "it's always special" will now be replaced with "Are you kidding? This IS the GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH!"

Sidewalk Universe said...

Yes Mark you have the spirit! In fact I always say to my outreach visitors the same thing just a little different: there is ALWAYS SOMETHING GOING ON UP THERE!"

Your right, a Pronto would be the ideal scope for Gumby especially a green one. Now what would Pokey have?

Johany DeMarco said...

Very nice post! Loved the Gumby analogy. I am a beginner stargazer. Although I have stargazed on and off throughout the years I finally decided to get back into it. And I love it!!!

Do I have a telescope? Yeah, 2 department store ones from Walmart that break apart and are completely useless! Yes, I have learned my lesson!

For now, I'm having a blast using my eyes and my handy binoculars to scope the night sky and make friends with the constellations. My reward for learning the constellations this year? A brand new scope for Christmas, this time from a VERY reputable place!

I am self teaching myself and having a great time at it! Astronomy is VERY contagious, for sure!

Sidewalk Universe said...

You know I am saying nothing new here and I was not sure about my Gumby & Pokey but there they were today next to my astronomy books and the mind just went off.........

As I sit here the sky is clearing and I'm thinking of a Gibbous Moon outreach and my inner kid is taking off.....

Johany you are so on target with this thing do not stop! When its time for your new scope you will be primed & ready to exploit its potential."Making friends with the constellations" - yes!!!!!!!!!

Drive-by Astronomy said...

Johany has been severely infected and the prognosis is excellent that she will never recover from experiencing the beauty, awe and wonder of the the skies above.
Morevoer she has also have been SUGified... there is no cure. Heed SUG's words here and you will experience a lifetime of enjoyment from this hobby. You will never recover...Merely enjoy it!

Drive-by Astronomy said...

Richie we always have great fun with our astronomy banter. I must say this post is by far one of your best... it is simply brilliant. You never cease to amaze me.

Drive-by Astronomy said...

I too loved Gumby and Pokey but the Blockheads scared me a bit.

Hmmm.. what Celestial target would you dive into if you were them?

Would you not want to stand atop Mons Pico and gaze to the north to see Crater Plato, to the east and peer up the Alpine valley or to the south across the Sea of Showers to Archimedes and the Montes Appennius region in the distant horizon?

Marc said...

Pokey has got to be the "Dob Guy". You need a dob guy in the ranks...

I have to say it's one of the more original posts out there, and correct, utterly brilliant and moreover inspirational...

Although I have a confession, "The Greatest Show on Earth" was borrowed from Richard Dawkins book...but I figured it was catchy and usefull.

The beauty it is that, being an optical hobby, it's all about witnessing it and soaking it all in and pondering it all, much like wildlife/birding, it's about being there and watching it all unfold in front of you (nothing like seeing bald eagles in the wild or double stars so close they can barely be seen)...indeed, The Greatest Show on Earth...

Sidewalk Universe said...

Hey Drive By - thanks for the inspiration. There will be a BlockHead Astro posting.

Hey Mr.Mark I caught Pokey yesterday morning on my night stand with a open Orion catalog checking out the 14"truss and foaming at the mouth.

Johany DeMarco said...

Drive-by Astronomy,

You are so right! I can't get this astronomy bug out of my head! I wonder if there's some antibiotics I can take or something!

Like your blog, by the way!!!

NiteSkyGirl Blog said...

GREAT set of books !!! what are some of the titles I cannot see?