Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Astronomy-Based Farm

So Jen is doing the dishes as I come in from evening farm chores and I tell her that we really are an astronomy-based farm.  “Oh really?”  says she. “Really,” says I.  

First of all, I teach astronomy in two different formats: (a) the regular curriculum astronomy over at Tri-County Community College and (b) a few stargazing classes through the college’s Community Enrichment offerings.

Also, our laying flock consists entirely of Golden Comets, we will probably have a calf named Venus someday (all of Baby’s calves have V names: Victor, Victoria, next year will be Violet, etc.), and there are asters all over the place for the bees.  Heck, we drive a Saturn and Jen’s phone is a Galaxy (by Samsung)!

She feels the need to challenge my assertion about the wildflowers.  Aster and astro both come from the Greek root astron – star.  I press further.  An asterism is a group of prominent stars which make up a picture but are not actually a constellation.  Asterisms are usually subsets of constellations.  The two best examples will shake most people’s knowledge of astronomy.  The Big Dipper and Little Dipper… are not actually constellations.  Nope.  They are asterisms.  The Big Dipper is only a part of the constellation Ursa Major (the Great Bear).  Same story for the Little Dipper and Ursa Minor.

Of course farming is tied to the Sun’s cycles and path through the sky.  But even that does not explain the open clusters of fox grapes we found in the “hedge” along our driveway or the globular clusters of grapes I hope to have someday (open clusters and globular clusters are star clusters of different ages and which are located in distinctly different regions of the galaxy).  Until then, I’ll just continue to thoroughly enjoy the night sky and my work as a lunatic farmer.