Songs in the Key of Astronomy

Anyone who is writing or has written a PhD thesis knows that finding suitable quotes for the beginning of the thesis (and possibly the start of each chapter) is an important and time-consuming part of the process. Classic quotes found in many astronomy/astrophysics PhD theses include “We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars” from the Oscar Wilde play Lady Windermere’s Fan, “The most incomprehensible thing about the Universe is that it is comprehensible” by Albert Einstein and the favourite of many a Jodrell-ite, “At Jodrell Bank, someone decided it was time for a nice cup of tea” courtesy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

When I started writing my thesis a couple of months ago, I thought I would try to find relevant song lyrics to include in my thesis. Surprisingly, I quickly realised that the bands I listen to don’t tend to write songs about galaxies and black holes! The quote at the beginning of my thesis is currently “I like the Universe, but she messes with my words” from Resolution by Motion City Soundtrack, which I find quite appropriate given the difficulty encountered during the thesis-writing process. I have however come across lyrics that could have been suitable had I chosen a different area of astrophysics for my PhD:

  • “Constants aren’t so constant anymore” – Valentine by The Get Up Kids. Appropriate for a thesis that looks at the Hubble Constant (which isn’t actually a constant)
  • “That orange ball, that burning orb of fire in the sky is gonna explode and we’re all gonna die!” – Side Projects Are Never Successful by Bomb the Music Industry! A little morbid but could work if your research involved supernovae.
  • “Stars are out tonight, and you’re the brightest one shining in my sky” – IOU one galaxy by The Ataris. An obvious one for anyone studying stars.

Anyone else out there got some suggestions?


4 thoughts on “Songs in the Key of Astronomy

  1. You may want to check out Sir Patrick Moore's Galileo (don't worry, I have a copy) and also the Thinktank Planetarium's G&S pastiches on Youtube, for the seasonal constellations…


  2. Here's a couple from my thesis:
    “The Moon ain't romantic, it's intimidating as hell” – Bad Liver and a Broken Heart by Tom Waits

    “I get up in the evening and I ain't got nothing to say, I come home in the morning, I got to bed feeling the same way” – Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen (definitely about being up all night observing)


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