Astronomical ideas for social distancing

Blog post

For many of us, it has been hard to adapt to life without the regular contact with other human beings that we often don’t fully appreciate that we have come to rely on. With that in mind, here are a few (astronomy-themed) things that you can do to help make the most of the situation we find ourselves in!

1) Astronomical Research

Whether you’re an experienced astronomer or a complete novice, you can contribute to real astronomical research from the comfort of your sofa with very little effort! Check out some of the brilliant astronomy projects on Zooniverse and Space Hack and get stuck in to help us better understand our universe!

2) Stargazing

Our regular observing nights may have been cancelled but if you have a garden/not too much light pollution you can keep stargazing! There are plenty of websites with advice on what to look out for or if you’re familiar with it, you can use Stellarium! On top of this, amateur astronomer Megan Eaves has started virtual stargazing sessions on Twitter with the hashtag "#starentine" based on things that can be seen from the Northern Hemisphere. We might also post a few suggestions on our Facebook page from time to time!

3) Space-themed movies

There is no shortage of fantastic space-themed movies as many AstroSoc members will know, even if there is a shortage of those that are scientifically accurate! From Interstellar to Space Cowboys, there's surely something for everyone! You could even watch one with friends using a service such as Netflix Party. If you think we should hold an AstroSoc virtual movie night, get in touch with your suggestions!

4) Podcasts

There's a range of brilliant podcasts available for free about pretty much anything you can think of! If you find yourself missing astronomy-themed conversations then podcasts such as Astronomy Cast, StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson or The Infinite Monkey Cage with Brian Cox and Robin Ince may well be for you! You can find them for free on most podcast apps ie Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts etc.

5) New Skills

Being stuck at home can be a great opportunity to learn a new astronomy-related skill! At AstroSoc we regularly use Stellarium to find and track targets in the night sky, why not download it for free and make yourself familiar with it! If you are an astronomy student, it might be a good idea to get to grips with coding in Python! You can get started here and there are loads of sites that offer free trials on Python courses. If you’ve got to grips with the basics and want to try some real astronomy problems, get in touch and we might be able to help out!

6) Write a blog!

If you know something about an interesting area of astronomy and want to share it, why not write a blog right here on the AstroSoc website! If you’re interested, email us at astrosocmail@st-andrews.ac.uk or message us on Facebook!

7) Keeping the kids entertained!

If you have kids at home, entertaining them inside all day might be pretty tough! We will hopefully provide a follow-up blog post to this with some ideas of space-themed activities you can do at home with your kids (including big kids) but for now, check out these online games from NASA and a few simple experiments you can do at home!

We will update this blog post with any more ideas we have but if you have ideas you want us to share, please email them to us at astrosocmail@st-andrews.ac.uk or message us on Facebook!

Posted by Dan Marshall