What made the event different was that for once it was in English. Praise be.
However, it turned out the goal of the interview was to reveal “Common Misperceptions in the Public about Astronomy.”
Nice. “And was I the first person you thought of when asked to find misperceiving sorts,” I asked.
I was assured I was the second person. So I gave the interview.
It turns out, big surprise, that I am more ignorant today then I was in my youth. Proving, for once and for all, that I have left the first blush of youth. I am in the second blush, you see.
I was asked three questions.
1. To describe what the north star is. Well, in my defense, the most important thing about it is that it helps us know where north is, right? I mean, given one can find it. I also threw out that it was a constellation, primarily because how can one star show north. It cannot, I venture. My dear interviewer tried to help me. “Is there anything special about it?” I looked at him. “Well, um, it’s visible with the naked eye. That would have helped a million years ago. And for navigating the seas.” I see him scribbling and begin to wonder if he’s going to write that this particular member of the public thinks that maritime dinosaurs navigated by the stars. “Thousands of years,” I butt in.
Then I had to say how confident I was in my answer, on a scale of 1 to 10. I went with a solid 6.5.
2. To describe what the zodiac is and how many constellations are in it. Aha! Not for naught did I get my degree and go in debt! I used my hard-bought reading skillz and ventured based on the question that the zodiac is comprised of constellations.
I see my gentle interviewer waiting for more, first with his fingers hovering over the laptop, and then with a slow frown and raised eyes. “Visible constellations. With the naked eye.” He sincerely tried not to smile.
I announced I felt quite secure at 0.1 on the 1 to 10 scale of certainty. He announced the scale started at 1. “One point oh, then. Recurring.”
3. To describe what the seasons are. Humiliating. I squinted. I crushed my eyes shut. I raised one hand in front of me, and the other off on the side and began spinning it around. It’s impossible to spin your hand, what with the arm being attached to it and all.
It was not, shall we say, my most eloquent moment.
After several disjointed nouns and no verbs, I went with: “The sun and how we, um, go around it. On an angle. And the moon? Tides? The way we move. Where is the sun?”
I didn’t wait. 3.5, I said.
The thing that makes this debacle extra sad, dear readers, is that my laptop for the past two weeks has been perched on the following book: Universe. Only the highest rated book on astronomy for beginners.
Maybe it’s time I read it. 🙂