"So what constellation is that?" she asked me as we walked along the sandy beach of my university town.
"Um. I dunno," I replied.
Up to that point, my date was going really well. But as I saw the disappointment descend across her face, I realized that she realized I wasn't the astronomer she thought I was.
Trying to regain some dignity, I quipped: "I'm an astrophysicist, not an astronomer. I know how stars work, not what they look like."
The silence was deafening. The date went downhill from there.
PHOTOS: Top 10 Treats for Summer Astronomy
Now, I'm not saying that to impress a lady you need to be able to navigate the night sky, but if I'd only bothered to remember a few constellations from my practical astronomy lectures, this particular night of my undergraduate days could have turned out a whole lot different. Lesson learned: Having knowledge of astronomy can complement a romantic night, but saying you spend most of your waking hours running magnetohydrodynamic code on a computer, not so much.