What is astronomy? Astronomy is the scientific study of just about any sort of non-manmade thing that  isn't attached to the Earth or abiding in its atmosphere. Actually, we should broaden the definition to include all that "nothing" that is out there, too. In our time, astrophysicists and cosmologists are having a ball studying all that "nothing" out there. (If you think this is kind of crazy, just hang out with us for a while).

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I seriously doubt any meaningful studies or statistics exist on this issue, but I am convinced that astronomy is near the top of the list of subjects that offer such a humongous amount and variety of lifelong learning opportunities -- including radical lifelong learning where a "nobody" can make meaningful contributions to the science.

How about this?  A teen volunteer discovers a new exoplanet one day after his brief NASA training session. He had no relevant credentials. He had no wise, renowned mentor coaching him, he didn't write a  paper for the academic astronomy press, he didn't undergo peer review. He just did what he loved doing ...  and got lucky. Lucky? Sure. But the odds of finding gold increases dramatically when you are actually working at finding it.