Saturday, January 24, 2009

Astronomical Tunes

As mentioned in my last post, Tom Noe performed a few songs about Galileo's impact on our view of the universe at the January Texas Astronomical Society meeting. Listening to Tom sing brought to mind one of my favorite songs, one that also has an astronomical theme (though more science than history). 

Back in 2000 our twins, Brian and Chris, and I made a trip with others from their Boy Scout troop to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. For the first few days on the trail we were led by a ranger, a kid from the University of Florida the boys called Scuba Steve. While hiking, Steve taught the boys a few songs to pass the time. One called Why Does The Sun Shine? was particularly fun. We found out later that it is from a 1950s album called Space Songs performed by the folk singer Tom Glazer and later popularized by the group They Might Be Giants

Why Does The Sun Shine? doesn't highlight Galileo so it isn't as fitting for the celebration of IYA2009 as the pieces Tom sang, but given the main presentation of the meeting (David Dooling's talk on the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope) it might have also been an appropriate theme song for the evening. On second thought, a better choice would have been another TMBG song,  Why Does The Sun Really Shine? (The Sun Is A Miasma Of Incandescent Plasma), one they wrote to address the inaccuracies identified in the lyrics of the original, 1959 version.

The TMBG songs seem as popular today as they were when they were released. Here is a YouTube video that looks like a mash up of Why Does The Sun Shine? and

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