Field of Science

About The Astronomist

I am Alexander Fry. I am a graduate student in astronomy at the University of Washington in Seattle. I study, teach, and research astronomy. My research interests generally focus around cosmology and extragalactic astronomy.


The Astronomist is a blog about science, mostly astronomy, but also anything else that is interesting. I write this blog because I am deeply committed to staying curious. I estimate that 99.999% of the world makes their way in this world by thinking only of what happens on earth, but some of us are concerned with what happens above. What matters though is that all (even those of you who say you don't) of us feel awe when looking up. Occasionally, when I explain what I do I am asked why would we study the sky above when we haven't even figured out everything on earth, but I think if you have to ask, then you aren't asking enough. Through this virtual venue I can share my thoughts about various curiosities and just as importantly I hope that I can receive feedback from other wise and curious folks. I would not be surprised, in fact I hope, that blog comments could be better than my original posts because collectively the community knows far more than I will ever know. I don't always write about what I know so the best part my blog post could begin where the blog post ends. Just stay curious.

Astronomist is not a word

There are economists, agronomists, physicists, biologists, and scientists, but where are the Astronomists? When I was a child I took a long time to start reading and was diagnosed with dyslexia. I think one of the difficulties I encountered was the inconsistencies of language. In languages you can't be certain without a priori knowledge whether the patterns you know will be valid for a specific case. For example when pluralizing certain animals you can not just add an 's' and be done with the matter; you can have one goose, but there is no such thing as Gooses there are Geese (that nomenclature isn't so unexpected actually). However, when your Geese are just generally around a large group is a flock, when they are in flight they become a skein, and when they waddle on the ground they become a gaggle. How is anyone supposed to know that without having been told that? I know a little of many languages, mostly just enough to get myself in trouble, because I can't predict the special cases of conjugation, spelling, or pronunciation. I think all of us who are learning a new language just use the general rule or pattern we observe and extrapolate to new cases. Thus those who are learning English may take science and make the new word scientists, but when they take astronomy and make astronomists they are punished for their clever deduction! Thus I propose that Astronomist is a good as word as any.
Astronomist, astronomer, astronomy, image by raul-ruiz