Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Mental Health and Astronomy

  • Please log in to reply
114 replies to this topic

#1 VeraZwicky

VeraZwicky

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 278
  • Joined: 26 Jan 2018
  • Loc: Nashville, Tennessee

Posted 11 October 2021 - 01:08 PM

I wanted to create a thread to explore this general topic of Mental Health and Astronomy. If you suffer from anxiety, does Astronomy help relieve it? Has your interest in Astronomy made you feel more content/more satisfied with life? Does it make you feel more connected to others? Or have you spent countless nights, alone and isolated, being slowly driven mad by that vast, impersonal cold abyss of titanic destructive forces you can barely comprehend? Are you both a mental health professional and Astronomy enthusiast? Personally, I feel Astronomy has made me a more calm person. 

 

*If you aren't psychologically sound, please don't go too deeply into your issues here, rather seek professional help....


  • Rollo, tturtle, CharLakeAstro and 8 others like this

#2 Astrojensen

Astrojensen

    James Webb Space Telescope

  • *****
  • Posts: 16,696
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Bornholm, Denmark

Posted 11 October 2021 - 01:29 PM

Looking up at the stars make me happy, that's all I need to know. 

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


  • jimandlaura26, Jon Isaacs, izar187 and 38 others like this

#3 Sky King

Sky King

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,135
  • Joined: 16 Mar 2017
  • Loc: Arizona

Posted 11 October 2021 - 01:30 PM

In his column in Astronomy, November 2020, Bob Berman compared observing to meditation: "Observing - extensively watching an object - is a quiet activity with focused attention, a form of meditation. It is like nothing else. We observers are mindful without trying." It seemed very apt. Just being under the stars can be very relaxing. As gwlee posted: “I came for the science. I stayed for the crickets."  


Edited by Sky King, 11 October 2021 - 02:11 PM.

  • jimandlaura26, kopite, Astrojensen and 21 others like this

#4 Rich5567

Rich5567

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 288
  • Joined: 18 Apr 2020
  • Loc: Beverley. East Yorkshire. England. U.K

Posted 11 October 2021 - 01:37 PM

Hi,

 

I have anxiety and all the fun stuff that comes with it. Had it since around ten years old.

And astronomy definitely calms me and makes me the closest to contentment I can get too, although saying that, a good book can really help too, and beer or whisky.lol.gif . Not many things in life are as good as astronomy. After all, I never asked to be born, but while I'm here I may as well try to find something I truly enjoy. Well I found astronomy at around 8 or so years old, and I've never looked back.

 

I have spent thousands of nights under the stars, and have never being driven mad (or even concerned) by the 'impersonal cold abyss of titanic destructive forces I can barely comprehend'.

 

I find it quite comforting. Theres little old me, observing the best I can, one day soon I'll no longer be able too, but the universe will just continue on as it did before I exsisted. The stars have being my friends since I was a child, always there to sooth and console when needed.

 

The only time I feel at peace is after a great session under the vast uncaring vault of the night sky.

 

As someone once said...." I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night". Too true.

 

Rich.


  • Joe Bergeron, Unknownastron, izar187 and 18 others like this

#5 jcj380

jcj380

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,239
  • Joined: 08 Jul 2014
  • Loc: Out in the night, in the whispering breezes

Posted 11 October 2021 - 01:50 PM

I think it's been pretty well empirically proven that immersion in nature has a positive effect on humans.  How much it might help with psychological disorders probably depends on the severity and etiology of the disorder(s).


  • Midnight Skies, VeraZwicky and Jethro7 like this

#6 sevenofnine

sevenofnine

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,164
  • Joined: 16 Apr 2016
  • Loc: Santa Rosa, California

Posted 11 October 2021 - 01:52 PM

Observing the stars reminds me that we are all made of star stuff and that we are all part of a cycle of life greater than what exists on Earth. I find that very calming to think about when worldly troubles seem overwhelming.

Thanks Neil deGrass Tyson!  thinking1.gif


Edited by sevenofnine, 11 October 2021 - 03:14 PM.

  • jimandlaura26, CDyer77, kopite and 13 others like this

#7 Jethro7

Jethro7

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,574
  • Joined: 17 Dec 2018
  • Loc: N.W. Florida

Posted 11 October 2021 - 01:56 PM

Hello vera,

Spending the night looking up at the stars, gives me a peaceful easy feeling.

 

HAPPY SKIES TO YOU AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro


  • RAKing, BoldAxis1967, sevenofnine and 4 others like this

#8 TrustyChords

TrustyChords

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 320
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2017

Posted 11 October 2021 - 02:00 PM

Yes, being under the stars definitely has a calming effect. The process of astrophotography itself can have a very similar effect, where the imagination takes over and merges with the reality of it in a way that often allows mundane things in my head to go away.

 

Even thinking about traveling to a dark sight or imaging something exciting can bring some calm to mind.


  • SkyHunter1 likes this

#9 spereira

spereira

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 8,939
  • Joined: 21 Apr 2017
  • Loc: Bedford, NH

Posted 11 October 2021 - 02:20 PM

Moving to General Observing.

 

smp



#10 RAKing

RAKing

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10,342
  • Joined: 28 Dec 2007
  • Loc: Northern VA - West of the D.C. Nebula

Posted 11 October 2021 - 02:24 PM

I love to spend my nights under the stars.  I look up and any problems I might have that day are insignificant compared to the incredible universe in front of me.  The stars calm me down.

 

Cheers,

 

Ron


  • Javier1978, lcaldero, BoldAxis1967 and 7 others like this

#11 bthrel

bthrel

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 615
  • Joined: 02 May 2020
  • Loc: Linden, TN

Posted 11 October 2021 - 06:39 PM

For me its a stress reliever, from the moment I start setting up my gear until Im done Im completely in the zone and no other thoughts or concerns enter my thoughts. Its like ta ime warp, hours pass so quickly and then I emerge  on the other side with a clear calm mind.

 

Clear Skies

 

Brian


  • jimandlaura26, RAKing, Venter and 2 others like this

#12 mrlovt

mrlovt

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 785
  • Joined: 08 Sep 2012
  • Loc: Smyrna, TN

Posted 11 October 2021 - 07:17 PM

Hello fellow Tennessean!

 

I'm introverted by nature, but have a lot of dealings with people in my work, which can be stressful at times.  And I carry my share of anxieties.  I have always enjoyed the chance to get away to my backyard observatory.  Of course I bring the kids out before their bedtimes, and family and friends are always welcome, but in reality I know it will 99% of the time be a solitary experience, which I 100% enjoy.  So in that way, I'd say astronomy is definitely positive for my well being.


  • Astrojensen, Daniel Guzas, BoldAxis1967 and 3 others like this

#13 Sky Muse

Sky Muse

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,396
  • Joined: 26 Oct 2012
  • Loc: Mid-South, U.S.

Posted 12 October 2021 - 02:45 AM

Astronomy, to me, is...

 

             meditation.gif


  • RAKing, sevenofnine and Voyager 3 like this

#14 viewer

viewer

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,344
  • Joined: 06 Jan 2017
  • Loc: 60N, Helsinki, Finland

Posted 12 October 2021 - 09:54 AM

I think astronomy definitely is good for my psyche. Both that feeling of belonging to the universe and the small challenges.


Edited by viewer, 12 October 2021 - 09:55 AM.

  • Rich5567 likes this

#15 Rickycardo

Rickycardo

    Desdenova

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,575
  • Joined: 29 Mar 2009
  • Loc: 3rd Rock

Posted 12 October 2021 - 10:30 AM

I wanted to create a thread to explore this general topic of Mental Health and Astronomy. If you suffer from anxiety, does Astronomy help relieve it? Has your interest in Astronomy made you feel more content/more satisfied with life? Does it make you feel more connected to others? Or have you spent countless nights, alone and isolated, being slowly driven mad by that vast, impersonal cold abyss of titanic destructive forces you can barely comprehend? Are you both a mental health professional and Astronomy enthusiast? Personally, I feel Astronomy has made me a more calm person. 

 

*If you aren't psychologically sound, please don't go too deeply into your issues here, rather seek professional help....

I am not a people person yet have to deal with them all day every day. Being alone in the wilderness with nothing but the universe above me is the most relaxing feeling. During all of my service tours I've looked at the stars through the broken windows of burned out cities or through the canopy of the jungle and the peacefulness of it always helped keep my demons at bay.

There are nights I can't sleep and I lie in bed thinking of setting up camera and lens under the stars, each part, each cable, each connection, every step. It always leads me to sleep.

I also like to think that I'm not looking up at the universe but actually hanging onto the Earth by mere gravity looking out into the vast expanse.
 


  • Jaimo!, justfred, Daniel Guzas and 8 others like this

#16 RalphMeisterTigerMan

RalphMeisterTigerMan

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,968
  • Joined: 01 Nov 2016

Posted 12 October 2021 - 01:07 PM

I have been under "Doctors Care", G.P. and various Psychiatrists and taking various medications for a very long time. I am extremely fortunate to have found a "Family Doctor" who is very experienced with treating patients with various emotional and mental disorders, including the dreaded Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

Having found the right anti-depressants, it can somethimes take months or longer to find the right medication for you, as well as medications for Anxiety and many other conditions that you personally is very important. Not everyone is the same and just because a anti-depressant works well for someone you know doesn't mean it will also work well in your case.

 

I have found that the combination of the right General Practitioner and medications, and staying on the medications (do not stop with-out consulting your Doctor as this could become a life-threatening issue) are part of the treatment. Doing things that you enjoy and for me, engaging in the persuit of Amateur Astronomy is extremely beneficial. Even if it's cloudy (Cloudy Nights to the rescue) going online and visiting various astronomy websites and watching documentaries related to Astronomy keeps your mind busy and allows you to think of things that are "happy". Sitting isolated by yourself without doing anything is a bad idea and can actually make the condition that you have even worse.

 

Even just taking your binocs out during the day for terrestrial observing can be a lot of fun. It's amazing the wildlife that you can observe even living in a fair sized city! For example, living in my new residence for almost 2 months now, there is a feral, long-haired black cat that loves to hunt in my back-yard. Watching him waiting patiently for those pesky mice (I hate you meeses to pieces) it's like watching a wildlife documentary but it's real life. Watching him as he walks proudly away with his "catch" is actually rather satisfying.

 

So even if it's cloudy, you can still observe things with your astronomy gear especially if you have a decent pair of binioculars or even an Astro-scope that can be used as a spotting scope. I find engaging in these activities keeps the eyes sharp and your mind active.

 

Trust me, if you are in "mental pain" which can be even worse than physical pain, try to do something fun. If some of you out there are really suffering, I've been and am still there. If it is allowed, you may PM me and I will do what I can even though I am not a psychiatrist but I am a good listener.

 

Clear skies and keep you mind busy by doing constructive things that make you happy and I can't of anything better than Amateur Astronomy.

 

RalphMeisterTigerMan


  • Phil Cowell, Midnight Skies, psandelle and 15 others like this

#17 alphatripleplus

alphatripleplus

    World Controller

  • *****
  • Posts: 134,595
  • Joined: 09 Mar 2012
  • Loc: Georgia

Posted 12 October 2021 - 01:34 PM

Yes, being under the stars definitely has a calming effect. The process of astrophotography itself can have a very similar effect, where the imagination takes over and merges with the reality of it in a way that often allows mundane things in my head to go away.

 

Even thinking about traveling to a dark sight or imaging something exciting can bring some calm to mind.

I've noticed that too. After an evening of leisurely going through a list of targets, without putting pressure on myself to visit all of them, I am pretty relaxed. I have a hunch that it lowers my blood pressure, but I haven't tested that.


  • TrustyChords and David Mercury like this

#18 Rickycardo

Rickycardo

    Desdenova

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,575
  • Joined: 29 Mar 2009
  • Loc: 3rd Rock

Posted 12 October 2021 - 01:59 PM

I have been under "Doctors Care", G.P. and various Psychiatrists and taking various medications for a very long time. I am extremely fortunate to have found a "Family Doctor" who is very experienced with treating patients with various emotional and mental disorders, including the dreaded Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 

Having found the right anti-depressants, it can somethimes take months or longer to find the right medication for you, as well as medications for Anxiety and many other conditions that you personally is very important. Not everyone is the same and just because a anti-depressant works well for someone you know doesn't mean it will also work well in your case.

 

I have found that the combination of the right General Practitioner and medications, and staying on the medications (do not stop with-out consulting your Doctor as this could become a life-threatening issue) are part of the treatment. Doing things that you enjoy and for me, engaging in the persuit of Amateur Astronomy is extremely beneficial. Even if it's cloudy (Cloudy Nights to the rescue) going online and visiting various astronomy websites and watching documentaries related to Astronomy keeps your mind busy and allows you to think of things that are "happy". Sitting isolated by yourself without doing anything is a bad idea and can actually make the condition that you have even worse.

 

Even just taking your binocs out during the day for terrestrial observing can be a lot of fun. It's amazing the wildlife that you can observe even living in a fair sized city! For example, living in my new residence for almost 2 months now, there is a feral, long-haired black cat that loves to hunt in my back-yard. Watching him waiting patiently for those pesky mice (I hate you meeses to pieces) it's like watching a wildlife documentary but it's real life. Watching him as he walks proudly away with his "catch" is actually rather satisfying.

 

So even if it's cloudy, you can still observe things with your astronomy gear especially if you have a decent pair of binioculars or even an Astro-scope that can be used as a spotting scope. I find engaging in these activities keeps the eyes sharp and your mind active.

 

Trust me, if you are in "mental pain" which can be even worse than physical pain, try to do something fun. If some of you out there are really suffering, I've been and am still there. If it is allowed, you may PM me and I will do what I can even though I am not a psychiatrist but I am a good listener.

 

Clear skies and keep you mind busy by doing constructive things that make you happy and I can't of anything better than Amateur Astronomy.

 

RalphMeisterTigerMan

Hang in there man, you are not without support.

One of the reasons I branched out into landscape and weather photography was because I had the need to get out with my equipment for some mental therapy but the clouds wouldn't always cooperate. I really like technical shooting so I've worked in time lapses and even some macro work. Winter is a grumpier time for me (mainly because I dislike snow and cold but mostly snow) so I try to work up some projects to look forward to doing. I tried macro photographing snow flakes (not the people kind) without success. This year I'm hoping for some raptor action with a new telephoto lens I acquired. I've seen a lot of hawks in the area and hope to capture a few against a winter background.

Photography is good mental floss for me. YMMV.
 


  • Whereisclearsky and Mark F. like this

#19 WhatMattHerrs

WhatMattHerrs

    Lift Off

  • *****
  • Posts: 15
  • Joined: 01 Oct 2021

Posted 12 October 2021 - 02:18 PM

"Yes and" to all of this! I work in the mental health/disability space and am coming back to astronomy after a number of years for this very reason. Was an astronomy minor in college and loved the combination of being forced to pause (and contemplate the enormity of the universe) while also having a rewarding, sciencey task that sometimes ended in having a cool picture. Had been pulling out an ancient (inherited from a grandparent) 4" reflector on an equally ancient GEM, and recently decided to make the plunge and upgrade to a modern system. While I wait for my gear (along with everyone else experiencing the astronomy back-ordermageddon), I'll keep playing with what I have, and will perhaps see what I can pull off with an untracked DSLR.


  • TrustyChords, fghsocwk and laurelg9 like this

#20 Bener

Bener

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 261
  • Joined: 12 Jul 2021
  • Loc: Ithaca NY

Posted 12 October 2021 - 03:27 PM

I find my time watching the skies as very therapeutic! Definitely has a positive effect on my psyche, and looking up at the stars is far better than watching something on TV that may get me upset at the current state of affairs here on this third rock from the sun.


  • Rickycardo, David Mercury and 72Nova like this

#21 Pingu

Pingu

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 265
  • Joined: 06 Nov 2011
  • Loc: FL

Posted 12 October 2021 - 04:41 PM

Well, I for one, am as crazy as the next nut.  And no doubt, the neighbors can vouch.  Nothing like after a long day of heavy lifting and dealing with customers/employees at work, is astronomy an enjoyable part of my life.  However, I still find myself stressed during observations.  I'll cuss at my poor eye sight, telescope heft, the clouds, heavy winds, dew, low/dead batteries, neighbors backyard spot lights, street lights, city sky glow, mosquitoes, etc...  Yall know exactly what I mean.  But it's only afterwards, sitting in my back porch, enjoying a cool bev smoking a stogey and listening to the sound of crickets and frogs, and occasionally the wife's snoring, do I enjoy the recollection.  Hek, this past weekend I spent a few hours visualizing all 39 globular and open star clusters and galaxies in Andromeda.  No doubt, M2 is a cool second only to M13.  All was good until a thin layer of clouds moved in.  Go figure, but at least, I was able to get out and enjoy.  Some haven't this luxury.  So yes, I find this hobby very therapeutic, even if it just for a while.  And it has been for over a decade and will continue to be so, GOD willing.  Clear skies yall!


  • Rickycardo, David Mercury and Rich5567 like this

#22 Rickycardo

Rickycardo

    Desdenova

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,575
  • Joined: 29 Mar 2009
  • Loc: 3rd Rock

Posted 12 October 2021 - 05:04 PM

Well, I for one, am as crazy as the next nut.  And no doubt, the neighbors can vouch.  Nothing like after a long day of heavy lifting and dealing with customers/employees at work, is astronomy an enjoyable part of my life.  However, I still find myself stressed during observations.  I'll cuss at my poor eye sight, telescope heft, the clouds, heavy winds, dew, low/dead batteries, neighbors backyard spot lights, street lights, city sky glow, mosquitoes, etc...  Yall know exactly what I mean.  But it's only afterwards, sitting in my back porch, enjoying a cool bev smoking a stogey and listening to the sound of crickets and frogs, and occasionally the wife's snoring, do I enjoy the recollection.  Hek, this past weekend I spent a few hours visualizing all 39 globular and open star clusters and galaxies in Andromeda.  No doubt, M2 is a cool second only to M13.  All was good until a thin layer of clouds moved in.  Go figure, but at least, I was able to get out and enjoy.  Some haven't this luxury.  So yes, I find this hobby very therapeutic, even if it just for a while.  And it has been for over a decade and will continue to be so, GOD willing.  Clear skies yall!

I'll paraphrase another sergeant in my unit who once said, "Everybody's crazy. It's just how far you walk the tight rope before you fall."

*Paraphrase because he had a mouth that would make a sailor blush.
 


  • Pingu and ShaulaB like this

#23 Pingu

Pingu

    Mariner 2

  • *****
  • Posts: 265
  • Joined: 06 Nov 2011
  • Loc: FL

Posted 12 October 2021 - 05:11 PM

I'll paraphrase another sergeant in my unit who once said, "Everybody's crazy. It's just how far you walk the tight rope before you fall."

*Paraphrase because he had a mouth that would make a sailor blush.
 

Hahaha.  Steadfast and loyal!!!!!  We may have gotten along very well with one another.  And a thumbs up for Rush.


  • Rickycardo and dave253 like this

#24 laurelg9

laurelg9

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 316
  • Joined: 23 Nov 2020
  • Loc: Dayton, OH, USA

Posted 12 October 2021 - 06:14 PM

I have a sigh that only comes from being at the eyepiece. It's equal parts relaxed, happy, in awe and in the zone, having found a difficult target. I know it's good for my mental health b/c when I wake up and remember it the next morning, it makes that whole day happier and calmer, too.  

 

I assume it's in part b/c of context. Looking at the Andromeda Galaxy, for example, makes all my problems seem manageable by comparison. 


  • VeraZwicky, David Mercury, 72Nova and 3 others like this

#25 Thomas Marshall

Thomas Marshall

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,104
  • Joined: 24 Feb 2015
  • Loc: Spring Valley AZ.

Posted 12 October 2021 - 07:12 PM

It's comforting to me to know "Polaris" is "Bi-Polar" yet manages even better than the other stars to find "True North".  I just "Ask" the great "Light Houses" in the night sky to let me Glean the Clean, and whatever Goodwill and inducements to Well Being they can Emit. The last thing I need is tribulation's from Heaven.  smile.gif


  • David Mercury likes this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics