This Friday just gone, I hitched up my (entirely metaphorical) breeches and went to my first ever astronomy social meeting. Believe me, my very anxious brain tried every excuse in the book to talk me out of it, not limited to poor weather, Friday night fatigue and post meal bloat leaving me looking like a blimp, because a room full of new people is enough to render me a quivering wreck. I am not god at social stuff. I am very awkward, and really rather weird. People don’t tend to like me much on the first meeting. Or the second. Sometimes even the third. But after that, I normally chill the heck out and relax into being something resembling a fully functioning human being, rather than a very unsubtle alien masquerading as one. So potential new social groups are not things to be taken lightly. But I came to the unarguable conclusion that I won’t get very good at astronomy bumbling around the back yard by myself, swinging my telescope every which way and occasionally getting lucky. So off I went. I should add, I insisted that my dad come with me, as he is annoyingly capable at humaning, so I felt safer with him there to divert attention from me.
As usual with all things, I had no reason to worry. The AAS (Ashford Astronomical Society) were as friendly, welcoming and knowledgable as I could have dreamed of. I talked to quite a few members, all of whom were lovely, and really, really like astronomy. As I also really, really like astronomy, this gave us an easy opener for conversation. I feel like if I strive to talk to new people about astronomy, then my awkward first meeting problems could be solved! Although most people would probably not appreciate that, but I can iron out the wrinkles later. We had a fascinating talk about GMC (Giant Molecular Clouds) and probably my favourite astronomical thingy-majigs, Bok Globules, and not just because of the funny name, arguably the coolest things in the known and unknown universe. I am determined to see one. Although the weather was against us, we had a really helpful talk about what is around behind all that cloud, and how to find it, invaluable for a newcomer like me.
So, after all my flapping and dallying and excuse-making, I felt really rather foolish. I didn’t need to worry, didn’t embarrass myself (too much. I think.) learned a great deal and met some wonderful people. I loved my first astronomy social, and cannot wait for the next one.