Photon addiction is a pathological state. The disorder is characterized by the progression of acute telescope use to the development of photon-seeking behavior. Previously rewarding naked eye stimuli is no longer sufficient. Treatment is difficult, relapse is common.
In past decades, photon addiction was seen in isolated cases. With the increased availability of astronomy books, software and affordable quality equipment, it is fast becoming an epidemic. If you think a friend or loved one is suffering from photon addiction and needs intervention, please consult our handy symptom finder.
One of the first major symptoms is that the victim, when left to his or her own devices without daytime obligations, will become a night-dwelling creature. If you suspect that your neighbors have turned into vampires, consider the possibility that they may actually be astronomers. Astronomers are not necessarily repelled by garlic (indeed, a garlic-heavy dinner may help them to locate one another in the dark), and their beverage of choice is likely to be tea, coffee or hot chocolate rather than blood.
Please note that many of the standard vampire-detection methods may result in false positives. For instance, astronomers are likely to hiss at you if you shine a flashlight in their faces. It is also not advisable to sprinkle holy water (or any other liquid) on their telescopes.
Sudden technological aptitude
Even if they do not possess a technical education and do not self-identify as 'geeks', some astronomers will suddenly develop a handy streak (or, at the very least, an ability to use everyday items creatively) out of sheer necessity. A hair dryer or therapeutic heat wrap might be pressed into service as a dew-prevention system. The trunk of the car will fill up with extra 12V battery packs to power electronics in the field.
If no contractor will bore a hole through the middle of an existing house to plant a pier and convert the attic to a roll-off roof observatory, the determined astronomer will learn the appropriate skills. For your own safety, please try to determine whether the astronomer is truly handy or belongs on an episode of When Home Renovation Projects Attack!, and keep your distance accordingly.
Astronomers who are not content to merely experience the cosmos at night will surround themselves with its trappings by day. Celestial-motif bed linens, glassware, ties and jewelry are a common expression of this phenomenon. (It may also lead uneducated house-guests to assume that their hosts are astrologers.) Vanity license plates with NGC numbers are a sure sign.
More advanced cases may influence the naming of pets or even children. If your child's classmate is named Luna, Andromeda, or Bellatrix, and owns a dog named Sirius, consider the possibility that her parents might be astronomers as opposed to Harry Potter fanatics.
Sensible astronomers, like sensible pet owners, will choose a telescope that is compatible with their lifestyle. An astronomer may purchase a telescope that is too big to be usable, or even take on a series of increasingly larger scopes, ending up with a houseful of sadly neglected instruments. In some cases, a poorly chosen and unwieldy telescope may get to decide the size of the next car or the location of the family's next home.
Fortunately, most consequences of choosing the wrong scope are relatively minor: a telescope will not mind being shut up in the garage when you don't have time for it, and will not change from a playful little Mak-Cass to a big lumbering slobbery-tongued Dobsonian over the course of several months.
The good news for those afflicted by this condition is that it's much easier to bear when others are supportive. Perhaps future generations will even consider enthusiasm for astronomy something to be celebrated, instead of a disorder that needs to be treated.
Photon Addiction Help Sites
Brenda is an avid stargazer who enjoys guiding everyone to the stars, sharing her passion and knowledge with others.