Interview with an Astronomer

Photo provided by Dr Steven Simmerman

Photo provided by Dr Steven Simmerman

Dr. Steven J Simmerman is a Astronomy professor at Rowan University and has been for 25 years. He recently retired from being an Optometrist, but continues his teaching in Astronomy because of his strong interest with it.

Q: What is your career background in Astronomy?

A: In middle school I was always fascinated by the stars. After a while, I bought my first telescope and took classes in astronomy. I ended up going to college to be an optometrist following the footsteps of my father and got my doctorate degree. Astrophotography was a strong hobby of mine, I taught classes at a county college on Astronomy then finally at Rowan where I’ve been for 25 years.

Q: What are your views on astrology?

A: I personally don’t believe in it. A few students in my classes usually ask about astrology too. Astrology and Astronomy are two different things. They both formed 5,000 years ago, but there aren’t much studies to prove astrology. It’s more of a pseudoscience.

 

Q: Why do you think astrology was created? How was it able to sustain its popularity?

A: Way back when it began, Astrology was based off of superstitions. Since it was during the Renaissance period, there wasn’t much known about it. Astrologers based everything off of predictions through the stars, where Astronomy is studying the positions of them. Astrology has been in publications like newspapers for awhile.

Q: Are there any other ways through history have people used the planets or the stars for predictive purposes?

A: Yes, there is the Christmas Star, that could have been worked over by astrologers. It was more based on what people would be interested in seeing like comets, anything occurring that was bright and optic. Like seeing Venus and Jupiter it was interpreted as a sign. There aren’t many occurrences dealing with celestial objects other than in the Bible.

Q: What do you wish that the average person knew more in terms of Astronomy?

A: How amazing the findings are, and that once there is one thing figured out, there’s more questions about it. There is so much to discover with the planets and stars. Astrology is heavily influenced by the findings in Astronomy. Everyday something new is going on in the sky.

Other points mentioned:

Astrology is part over past, there is no plausible reason for it in the future other than its historical value. It is a pseudoscience and its accuracy is about 17% correct. Astrology tries to predict off beat things, like celestial occurrences. Believing that different civilizations put different markings in the stars. Astrology has many different ideas and is constantly changing where astronomy is factual with discoveries going on to this day, but the findings from the past are still relevant to today.

 

 

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