Here’s the deal. I’m on Twitter. I would have done this sooner, but there was some confusion as to how it works. Every morning for the past couple of years I would wake up, say something clever to my computer and then shout, “Tweet!” at my monitor. I erroneously assumed that these comedic nuggets and insightful quips were being shared with the world. I was wrong.
So I started up this week in earnest and now I try to tweet something that will help make the Universe a better place every day. And I’ve been assuming all week that these comedic nuggets and insightful quips were being shared with the world. I was wrong again. They were only being shared with my eleven followers. If I recall, Jesus had around eleven followers and he did alright…but I’m shooting a little higher.
Thus, I’ve included a little twitter update on my sidebar and now you too can conveniently follow me on Twitter via the simple click of a button. Take a look. It’s over there. What’s in it for you? Well, the Lady Gagas of the world have over thirty million followers. And my plan is to overtake them by the end of the week. If you secure yourself as one of my first followers, you’ll be able to join me on this journey of laughter and learning (I, for example, just learned that there is apparently more than one Lady Gaga – weird).
Now…where was I? Oh, yes, constellations. I’ve always thought these things were ridiculous. Some Babylonians looked up at the night sky thousands of years ago, squinted their eyes and kind of sort of thought they saw a bull and somehow it stuck. Here’s my problem – none of the constellations look anything like anything. That’s not a ram. It’s a clump of five stars. And when you connect the dots you get…a bent line. A bent line that by no stretch of the imagination even begins to resemble a ram. Just stop it.
In 1922, the International Astronomical Union adopted the 88 officially recognized constellations. But who the hell does the International Astronomical Union think it is? No, seriously. Who the hell is the International Astronomical Union? Is that a real thing?
When they created the official list, they weeded out some of the wackier constellations. We used to look up at Hirudo (the leech), Polophylax (the guardian of the pole), Officiana Typographica (the print shop), Dentalium (the tooth shell), and Frederici Honores (Frederick’s honors). I have no idea what a tooth shell is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not up in the sky.
But they also left in some bizarre ones. Sure, we all know about Aquarius (the water-bearer), but who among us has heard of Antlia (the air pump), Caelum (the chisel), or Puppis (the poop deck). True story, those are all officially recognized constellations. I don’t know what kind of oddly specific imagination looks up at a random blob of stars and thinks, “Hey, that looks exactly like a quarter deck. Wait, no…more like a poop deck,” but they are incorrect.
And what’s with all the antiquated language? These things haven’t been updated in centuries. Today we’ve got constellations that translate as: the pendulum clock, the mariner’s compass, and the river Eridanus. Why can’t we bring our astronomy into the twenty-first century? I suggest we add the LOLcat, the iPhone 5, and the Beyonce.
Actually, were I in charge of naming the constellations, I would be much more accurate. I would name them exactly as they appear. Join me, romantics, and gaze up at the beautiful night sky. I think I see Humus (the cluster), Militus (the wad) and Astrum Nihilum (the group of stars that don’t look anything like any animal, person or thing).