When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
By Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
In a previous module, we learned that astronomy is an observational science, rather than an experimental science. In AST 111, you are becoming familiar with the long, painstaking process that astronomers undertake to deconstruct light from their observations, for example, using the reflected sunlight of an asteroid to determine whether it will hit Earth. This assignment affords students with the opportunity to participate in one of the first steps of the scientific process in their own place-in-space: observation of the natural world.
In this assignment, each student will find a safe place to observe nature for 30-minutes. While students are observing, they may take photos, take notes about what they are observing, create something in response to their environment, make a data table recording how many similar or different things they saw, or simply observe.
After this experience, students shall generate an essay describing their experience, thoughts, and observations. Include responses to the following questions in your essay:
how do you think about the term “nature” and how did it influence your choice of location for your observation?
to what extent and in which ways did you consider yourself individuated from the nature you observed, if at all?
to what extent and in which ways did you consider yourself connected or part of the nature you observed?
to what extent do you think nature is the same as science? Why?
to what extent do you think observation is a part of science? Why?
The structure of the essay should have proper university-level form, with paragraphs that begin with a topic sentence and are followed by supporting sentences. However, the organization of the essay is up to the student, and may be sectioned according to clarifying subheadings. The student may include artwork (e.g. collage, poetry, visualization) or data tables related to their observations to add dimension to their essay’s interpretation. However, if these are included, they should be referred to and interpreted within the body of the essay. Any additional figures such as these shall not detract from the required word count.
The essay will be graded on a 10-point scale according to the level-of-detail provided, creative crafting, organization, appropriateness for public readership, and grammar. The essay shall be single-spaced, font-size 12, 800 – 1000 words.
Note: Please review the rubric feedback on your Relationship to Science Essay to learn about how this assignment will be graded according to the rubric (full points or otherwise). If you need professional help with writing essays, I recommend the free UAB writing center: https://www.uab.edu/writingcenter/