While looking for shooting stars tonight


I’ve just come back in from looking for shooting stars. My 10 year old daughter was with me, and together we saw 6 in half an hour. We also saw at least as many satellites. All on polar orbits. I’ve been stargazing on and off all my life. I remember noticing a drop in the number of observed satellites after the end of the Cold War. Now there are more than before, it seems to me. While we were outside, my daughter mentioned that her (state) primary school teacher (who trained as a secondary school maths teacher) had told her class that our sun is the largest star. My daughter had raised her hand and said that’s not right, there are loads of stars that are much much bigger (she’s seen comparisons on YouTube). The teacher replied, apparently: Not in our galaxy. Oh dear. I pointed vertically upwards to Vega and told her that star is one of our next door neighbours, you can see the Milky Way behind it. It’s about twice the size of our sun. Just saying.

I suppose it’s alright to mention that her teacher is female. She was, after all, challenged by another female.

About these ads

13 responses to “While looking for shooting stars tonight

  1. The ISS is clearly visible this week traversing the night sky from west to east at 10.00 or 11.00 o’ clock. Tonight (Tuesday) it is 10.12 and 11.49; Wednesday it is 9.25 and 11.00; Thursday it is 10.12 and 1148; Friday 9.25 and 11.00, etc till the 23rd. August.

  2. The content of the “science” “teaching materials” “delivered” to those intense women (often with bad haircuts) indoctrinating our primary-school children are often prepared by simillar people.

    Particularly the science and history cannot be expected to be accurate or unbiased.

    Perhaps the poor woman meant “largest object in the solar system”?

    Also as an aside, if a teacher needs to “deliver the topic from the teaching materials”, then she (sometimes even “he” but increasingly rare) ought not to be in the job.

  3. I had some spectacularly bad teachers in the 1970s, and sometimes got into trouble for mocking their ignorance and stupidity.

    Here are some of my rules for being a good classroom teacher:

    1. When one of your students contradicts you and is right, thank him.

    2. When someone asks a question you can’t answer, be honest and promise an answer for the next lesson.

    I’ve found that students of all ages appreciate honesty.

    • I agree totally, from experience.

      It is always appreciated if you say “you know what? I don’t really know the answer to that…however I’d suggest, on the basis of what I do know, that…..(this) is the case, because…etc” . Or one could say: “I’ll ferret around and see if I can find the answer for next time.”

      Often such a question can truly be answered by saying “actually, no scientist knows the answer to that at present. I know of several teams trying to find it out. We are advancing, in general, all the time.”

  4. “Often such a question can truly be answered by saying “actually, no scientist knows the answer to that at present. I know of several teams trying to find it out. We are advancing, in general, all the time.”
    I’m not so sure about that – it seems to me that the more we learn the more we realise how little we know.

  5. “The content of the “science” “teaching materials” “delivered” to those intense women (often with bad haircuts) indoctrinating our primary-school children………..”
    I am reminded of another Godfrey Bloom-ism; “Heavily tufted lesbian Nordics”

  6. Sean and David – agreed.

    The sun is a fairly ordinary star – it looks larger than other stars because it is much closer than they are.

    This is the sort of thing one forgive a ten year old child for not knowing – but not a teacher.

    Yet (as the post makes clear) the child knew the truth and the teacher was at the cave man (sorry, cave person) level.

  7. Pingback: While looking for shooting stars tonight - SurvivalismUpdates.com

  8. Pingback: While looking for shooting stars tonight - SurvivalismUpdates.com

  9. Pingback: While looking for shooting stars tonight - SurvivalismUpdates.com

  10. Pingback: While looking for shooting stars tonight - SurvivalismUpdates.com

  11. Johannes Kantelberg

    As the architect Louis Kahn used to say “A good question is better than the most brilliant answer”

  12. William Palfreman

    Most formal education should be wound up, anyway. Those will a special interest can hire specialist tutors like you, David. for the rest it propgates pacifying nonsense. Nassim Taleb is utterly convicning about the matter. Autodidaction is the only way.