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Japhy
2007-Dec-26, 10:55 PM
I've been taking classes at the local community college on and off for pretty much forever now and it was time to take my science class for my computer science degree. The college decided to try and expand it's astronomy program by expanding it's one class from one semester to two. Having a passing interest in astronomy, I decided that was better than dissecting a frog for biology.

There were approximately 14 students in class that first night and we started with the celestial sphere and by the second class half the students had dropped out. By the time we finished last week, there were only 5 of us left. The professor was thorough, well prepared, but not very engaging. In all fairness this was his first full time teaching experience and was asked to teach Astronomy because he was a physicist who hosted planetarium programs part time. But regardless, the fact was it was awfully hard to stay focused, especially those first few weeks while he was finding his footing. After that first night, I too questioned my decision to take astronomy, but decided to stick it out.

Somewhere about halfway through the semester the new Microsoft Zune 2 came out (I have a 30g, and now 80g for Christmas. yay!) and the Zune Marketplace introduced it's new podcast section. I searched for Astronomy and Astronomy Cast came up and I started finding all these topics on things we either covered or were about to cover. So I downloaded all the planets covered to that point and the asteroid belt podcast and started listening.

I can't tell you how Pamela and Fraser really turned things around for me. I found the podcasts made for great study guides anytime prior to an exam. Pamela has such a great way of explaining things, keeping the listener's interest, and a terrific sense of humor. Fraser keeps things light as well and does a terrific job of reiterating and clarifying important points.

Astronomy Cast pulled me out of my B average doldrums, helping me to ace my final, and achieve an A for the class. I also made a fan of the show out of at least one other student, but I think I failed at my attempt to introduce the show to the professor. He didn't know what a podcast was and didn't seem too keen on checking out the website. Oh well... I was really hoping he'd give a listen and maybe then Pamela's style would rub off on him some. :lol:

But I think the biggest success between my class and the podcast is that in combination they elevated my interest in astronomy so that now I've been listening to all the shows and recording everything on TV astronomy related. Astronomy is now a hobby of mine.

Sadly, there hasn't been enough students signing up for the second half so they will not be offering Astronomy 2 this Spring. So for my final free elective I will be studying Shakespeare. And if we read the Tempest or A Midsummer Night's Dream I will recognize the characters Francisco, Stephano, Sycorax, and Puck as moons of Uranus. :)

Thank you Pamela, Rebecca and Fraser!

kukulcan
2008-Jan-16, 10:34 PM
I totally agree with the great job you two are doing! It is completely professional and well planned out. I am serving in Iraq right now and I love listening to the podcasts on my zune while I get some down time. Keep up the great work!

FriedPhoton
2008-Feb-06, 02:19 PM
I discovered Astronomy Cast near the end of December 2007. I had missed a lot of work in the prior month because of family illnesses and was feeling pressure from management to get my work done as we neared the end of a project. I had a ton of work to do and opted to work through the holidays despite the fact I still had a week of vacation due. I worked from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed for about a week.

Astronomy Cast helped keep me sane. I listened to all the shows that week, some more than once, and the diversion helped keep me from focusing on how miserable I could have been.

I was continually fascinated by the quality of the show. I've been a fan of radio in all it's forms since I was a child (thanks for the crystal radio kit Dad) and as a result I have listened to a large number of radio shows. While I'm no communications expert I feel that Astronomy Cast is a top-notch production. I have heard few shows that provide the depth of interesting information in such a seemingly casual way. I realize the show is probably scripted to a certain degree but one just doesn't get that feeling while listening.

Frazer and Pamela are "naturals" when it comes to hosting an audio show. Their personalities seem to come right through as they discuss Astronomy and their enthusiasm for the topic is infectious.

On top of it all, Astronomy Cast was my first real dive into listening to podcasts. I wanted something to listen to while I was working and recalled another astronomy-related show I'd listened to a few times (downloaded directly from the group's website), so when I fired up my empty copy of iTunes I searched for astronomy and found Astronomy Cast. Now I'm hooked on podcasts and sick as it may sound I really enjoy listening to university lectures on various topics but I have also found numerous podcasts on computer science related topics such as AI and Robotics (my first love, just barely crossing the finish line before astronomy).

So my gratitude toward Fraser and Pamela extends beyond their wonderful show, they have introduced me to a new world of learning I may not have explored if their show was not as profoundly interesting as it is.

Fraser
2008-Feb-06, 08:25 PM
Thanks for your feedback, we really appreciate it. Once you start listening to podcasts, you can never go back. :-)

clint
2008-Feb-08, 11:26 PM
... but I think I failed at my attempt to introduce the show to the professor. He didn't know what a podcast was and didn't seem too keen on checking out the website. Oh well... I was really hoping he'd give a listen and maybe then Pamela's style would rub off on him some. :lol: ...

That's so frustrating isn't it?
All these wonderful resources out there, and so many people who just don't get it.

Anyway, refreshing to hear these stories about people who do make use of them!

clint
2008-Feb-08, 11:40 PM
...
On top of it all, Astronomy Cast was my first real dive into listening to podcasts. I wanted something to listen to while I was working and recalled another astronomy-related show I'd listened to a few times (downloaded directly from the group's website), so when I fired up my empty copy of iTunes I searched for astronomy and found Astronomy Cast. Now I'm hooked on podcasts and sick as it may sound I really enjoy listening to university lectures on various topics but I have also found numerous podcasts on computer science related topics such as AI and Robotics (my first love, just barely crossing the finish line before astronomy)...

Same for me, welcome to the club :lol:
I had listened to some other podcasts from time to time, but Astronomy Cast really got me hooked.

It's still amazing to me: we've come to assume this as natural by now,
but as a child (in the 70s/80s) I had to go to the local library to find this kind of information,
and since I didn't live in a big city, mostly they didn't have any stuff really up-to-date.

Now I'm listening to the latest astronomic discoveries, which are not even available in my native language, yet
- and debating with experts all over the world!!!

This might sound commonplace for anybody living in the US or Canada,
but to me it's sometimes still kind of amazing to be able to exchange view on these things with you guys :)

WalrusLike
2008-Mar-06, 11:29 PM
Good heavens!... I think that with only a word or two changed here and there I could have just used FriedPhotons post. (apart from the overworked bit... I am not that dedicated....)

Our circumstances match with uncanny accuracy... proof of the parallel worlds theory... or more prosaically, that there are 6 billion of us living here... :)

In any case, my many, many thanks to Fraser, Pamela and Rebecca.


...continually fascinated by the quality of the show....a fan of radio..(thanks for the crystal radio kit Dad)....Frazer and Pamela are "naturals"...... Astronomy Cast was my first.........podcasts.... Now I'm hooked... I have also found ... computer science...topics... AI and Robotics...

So my gratitude toward Fraser and Pamela [and Rebecca] extends beyond their wonderful show, they have introduced me to a new world of learning I may not have explored if their show was not as profoundly interesting as it is.

Thanks again. I half believe in karma... I hope that good things happen to you three.