Thursday, May 14, 2009


Three new students signed up for the Bloomfield High School Sidewalk Astronomers Club yesterday.

Last night they joined me outside. I grumbled (as I will) about the clouds, about the finderscope being misaligned, about none of the regular members showing up. (To be fair, the North Jersey Astronomy Group was meeting, and my more reliable charges were hanging out with the hardcore Essex County astronomers.)

I fixed the finderscope, aligning it with a street lamp, the clouds parted, and there was Saturn, glorious Saturn. Despite the light pollution, Saturn shone through, as it will.

Did you ever watch ecstatic adolescents? They shout, they dance, they lose all self consciousness, and they remind me why teaching matters.

Last night on the corner of an urban block three young men jumped and whooped around a mirror, celebrating Saturn.

In a few decades they will not remember adenosine triphosphate or quadratic equations or (even) me.

But they will not forget Saturn.


Unknown said...

I doubt that they'll forget you. I still remember the teachers who changed my life.

Charlie Roy said...

Somehow I think they'll remember you.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora e Michael.

You may be remembered, but you're right. Never underestimate the power of the cosmos.

Catchya later

This Brazen Teacher said...

I agree with John Spencer on this one :-)

doyle said...

Thanks all for the words.

In this case, Saturn was the show; none of these students have me in class, and while I hope they stick around as club members, my role in the club is vastly different than my role in the class.

Every astronomy club deserves a curmudgeonly, grumpy, bearded old guy to fix scopes, point them in the general right direction, and gripe about new-fangled electronics. I mostly stand out of the way--looking up works far better than words.