Readers, help me sort out an egregious detail of astronomical lore.
The most common method of classifying stars — Harvard Spectral Classification — was thought up by one of the most famous female astronomers of all time, Annie Jump Cannon. Adapted from a cumbersome older method which sorted stars into 22 alphabetical categories of observable hydrogen in their spectra, the Cannon method orders stars from hottest to coldest. This, despite being functional and elegant, left her (and us) with an unpronounceable acronym: OBAFGKM. With the recent addition of two colder categories of stars, the problem has worsened. How to remember OBAFGKMLT?
And here’s where the problem lies. OBAFGKM(LT), though invented by one of the most admirable and brilliant women of the 20th century, is universally remembered by scientists, graduate students, and backyard astronomers as “Oh, Be a Fine Girl, Kiss Me!”
There has to be a better way. Although Annie herself may have come up with the name, what was appropriate in 1896 certainly isn’t now. Women of the sciences, bite back! Let’s come up with an acronym as memorable, as easily recalled as “Oh, Be a Fine Girl, Kiss Me;” perhaps one as snarky and condescending to the male scientific establishment as its predecessor has been to women — or, perhaps, one which will serve its purpose without making anyone wince. In my research on the subject, I’ve found only one worthy successor:
“Only Boys Accepting Feminism Get Kissed Meaningfully”
Which, adapting for the two new letters, might perhaps read:
“Only Boys Accepting Feminism Get Kissed — Men, Learn This”
Other contenders from the desk of Universe:
For the exasperated female grad student, “Oh Brother, Another Fucking Geriatric Killjoy Male Lesson Today?” For the sex-positive feminist, “Often Boys Assume (Falsely) Girls Kissing Means Lesbians.” For the reactionary riot grrl, “Oh, Be A Fine Girl: Kill Male Loser Tightwads!”
Or, perhaps, a more neutral acronym, one which speaks to general vexation against entrenched hierarchies and over-rigid educational contexts? “Over Bearing Adults, Frankly, Give Kids Much Lifelong Trauma.”
And now I turn it over to you, dear readers. Think of dear Annie Jump Cannon, with her amazing name and due scientific diligence, working long underpaid hours at the Harvard Observatory, cataloguing some 230,000 stars. I’m certain that together, all us fine girls and guys can come up with something both funny and appropriate — or at least exercise our minds in the process.