University Lowbrow Astronomers

You Might Be a Lowbrow If...

by Doug Scobel
Printed in Reflections: April, 2010.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with Jeff Foxworthy, the famous comedian who makes fun of himself and others who happen to be rednecks. You know his shtick. “If you think the last words to The Star Spangled Banner are ‘Gentlemen, start your engines’, then you might be a redneck.” Or, “If the Jack-O-Lantern on your front porch has more teeth than you do, then you might be a redneck.” Or one of my favorites, “If your idea of fast food is hitting a ‘possum at 65 miles per hour, then you might be a redneck.” Hilarious stuff, in my opinion at least. That got me to thinking. Just like rednecks, there are certain characteristics and behaviors of Lowbrows that make us unique. And in my opinion, some of them are quite funny—or at least they would be if they weren’t partly if not entirely true. So here’s my list—maybe you can come up with some of your own.

If you’ve ever said “Wow, it’s really warm out tonight” when observing under 20°F temperatures in January, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you have ever seriously considered selling all your astronomical equipment to take up stamp collecting because you just can’t face yet another solid month of cloudy skies, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you keep insect repellant in your eyepiece case, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If your definition of observing in the winter is looking at pictures on the Astronomy Picture of the Day web site, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If your telescope has ever gotten so wet from dew that if you didn’t know better you’d say it was caught in a thundershower, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you have only four hours of true darkness from twilight to twilight on the summer solstice, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If your checklist for what to take with you to your favorite observing site includes a snow shovel, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you know what the Michigan Nebula is, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you have ever observed where there were so many mosquitoes that they created diffraction spikes around bright stars, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you’ve ever bragged about observing in temperatures below zero—and I mean Fahrenheit, not Celsius—then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you’ve ever observed Messier objects—however briefly—through holes in the clouds under a 95% cloudy sky, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you have ever even considered hanging an astronomical calendar on your neighbor’s garage door across the street, so that you can at least observe something with your telescope, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you know that Peach Mountain isn’t really a mountain, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you spend more time buying and selling equipment on AstroMart then you spend actually using that equipment under the stars, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you have duct tape anywhere on your scope, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you are willing to drive more than a thousand miles—each way—to get to truly dark skies, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you know what a “Guide Rail” is, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If the know the meaning of the word Scopehenge, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you know what “Atta boy, Jim!” is from, and who says it, then you might be a Lowbrow.

If you know someone who brings a portable planetarium to star parties “just in case,” then you might be a Lowbrow.

So, how can you be certain that you are truly a Lowbrow? Well, if one or more of these jokes make you cry rather than laugh, then you could very well be one. But that’s okay, being a Lowbrow is a good thing. It’s a lot better than being a redneck.

[My apologies to any of you who consider yourselves rednecks and take offense—Doug]

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This page originally appeared in Reflections of the University Lowbrow Astronomers (the club newsletter).
This page revised Sunday, March 9, 2014 4:30 PM.
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