I’d like to begin this week’s column with an apology to meteorologist Adam Epstein for calling him a weatherman in last week’s column. I don’t know if I offended him, but my daughter was aghast and said, “Mom, he’s a meteorologist!”
I guess I am showing my age, because it seems that we always referred to the folks who predicted and observed the weather as “weathermen.” I am not sure when the shift to the politically correct term “meteorologist” occurred, but perhaps it was about the time women started giving us the daily forecast. “Weather girl,” “weather lady,” and “weatherwoman” all sound a bit awkward. The gender-neutral “meteorologist” is much less awkward, although difficult to spell. Thank goodness for spell check!
Since my daughter and I love to debate (argue), I had to enter a long harangue about the term “meteorologist” in my own defense for use of the title “weatherman.”
“Well, they only ever discuss the weather – you never hear them talking about meteors, near-Earth objects, solar wind, etc., etc.!”
I am a daily visitor to the website spaceweather.com and take great interest in solar activity such as solar wind speed, coronal holes, sunspot number, the daily fireball count and their projected orbits, and other atmospheric phenomena. The page is updated daily and has photo contributors from all over the world with amazing photos of auroras, eclipses, etc.
Once again my column topic sent me off researching the subject. Where did the term meteorologist originate?
The word meteor has greek origins – “meta,” meaning “through,” plus “aero,” meaning “air.”
A meteor is technically anything moving through the air! A raindrop could also be called a “hydrometeor.” What us old-timers call “meteors” are actually called “meteoroids” if they are still in space, and “meteorites” if they land on Earth.
A meteorologist studies and reports on those things traveling through our air, or atmosphere.
In all fairness to the weathermen (oops, I mean meteorologists) I listen to on a daily basis, they do mention things like eclipses and periodic meteor showers. (Should that be meteoroid showers?)
For now, if anyone wants to stay informed about solar weather, you can go to spaceweather.com.
Until that becomes politically incorrect and they change the name to solar meteorology.
Here’s hoping that our state will have been struck by billions of hydrometeors by the time this column hits the press. We desperately need the rain.
There is still time to donate to the School Spirit Challenge to benefit the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
The food and fund drive to help end hunger in Maine runs Sept. 2 to Oct. 28. I urge folks to show your support by bringing your contribution – canned, dry, or packaged food goods; produce; or financial donations of any size – to Erskine Academy between Sept. 2 and Oct. 28, or call Jane Godbout or Headmaster Michael McQuarrie at 445-2962 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org) to schedule a pickup of your donation.
You can also donate online by going to gsfb.org/schoolspiritchallenge and clicking on the Erskine button to make a secure online donation.