Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eclipsing Dimness

The other morning on Breakfast TV, they had an item about the recent total solar eclipse which lasted for over 6 minutes at totality, and was visible from India and China.

Well, that was fine, that was interesting, that was OK. However, what I did not find to be OK was the patronising way they then introduced some woman astronomer to explain to the dim-witted uneducated masses just what an eclipse is and how it happens.

She produced a small torch and a coin, and then aligning the beam of the torch into the camera lens to simulate the sun, then held a small coin in front of it to simulate the moon. What I found really bemusing by all this was that this was during normal adult viewing hours, but the way the item was presented it might as well have been children's TV. I found it extremely patronising and irritating to think that the programme makers felt they needed to get a professional astronomer on to explain to the public such a simple (this is definitely NOT rocket science) thing! But then maybe they have a point. Maybe your average British person on the street really is so uneducated and lacking in any kind of appreciation of anything outside the realms of Coronation Street or “Now” magazine, that they really do need to be treated like imbeciles.

I didn't watch children's TV but suspect that the event might have been reported on in a more adult way as this is the sort of thing children should be taught about and probably, for the most part know about already. I first learned about eclipses when I was 7 years old. It was my teacher, Miss Clissold (I'll never forget her) who taught us all about it in a very interesting and simple manner without the need to bring in a professional astronomer or the need to resort to torches and coins to demonstrate such a simple phenomenon. We all understood it without a problem, and then moved on...............

Actually, thinking about it, the Breakfast TV presenters might have been better to have employed a 7 year old - he or she would probably have done a better job in a less patronising way!

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