Ever looked out the window at night and find yourself staring at the universe, wondering what is up there? This has been a very common question among human beings since the dawn of time, since civilization first existed. From the Nubian Monuments to the Egyptian Monuments and Stonehenge, these are archaeological proof from the past that astronomical studies have been a common interest amongst mankind throughout the ages.
Astronomy essentially is the science of studying objects and phenomena in space, i.e. anything outside the earth’s atmosphere.
Until telescopes were invented in the 17th century, astronomy as we know was limited to just looking up into the sky with our naked eyes. Since the invention of telescopes, Astronomy has splintered off into another field of study which studies more in depth the physics of celestial objects systems, Astrophysics. Astronomy and Astrophysics are essentially intertwined because one cannot exist without the other thus which has led to big strides in the Astronomy field.
A brief history of Astronomy
Astronomy is the never ending study of our universe, or Multi-verse depending on the physicist, and every celestial object in it. Adversely, this includes planets, asteroids, comets, stars, gas formations, black holes, and other galaxies. Astronomy is often confused with Astrology, which is the belief that humans are somehow interconnected with the alignment of stars. Although the origins of the two studies are closely related, the actual subjects themselves are far from the same. Astronomy is more closely related with Astrophysics. While astronomy studies are based on the discovery and movement of celestial bodies, Astrophysics focuses more on the study of the development, formations, and chemistry of the known universe. Without astronomers, the astrophysicists would not have new discoveries to study and without the astrophysicists, the astronomers would have no motivation to keep looking to the skies. The two sciences practically depend on each other.
It is believed that in earlier civilizations structures such as Stonehenge were built in order to anticipate the changing of the seasons. Based on the positioning of certain objects in the sky’s alignment with the immovable structure, the people would know when the best time was to plant or harvest crops. Many more advancements were made in the field of Astronomy when telescopes were invented. The scientific revolution began when brilliant minds such as Nicolaus Copernicus, Johannes Kepler, and Galileo Galilei began looking to the skies during the time of the renaissance. Had it not been for them and Issac Newton’s law of gravitation, the working knowledge of the universe we have today would not exist. Newton also invented the 17th century alternative to the refracting telescope, the reflecting telescope. Since the refined work of these early astronomers and astrophysicists, we have been able to prove the Earth is in its own group of stars which is just one star system in our very own Milky Way galaxy. Also, in the 20th century the universal expansion was proven along with the widely backed theories of cosmically exotic objects such as black holes and neutron stars. Fast forward to the 21st century and the field of Astronomy is alive and kicking more than ever.With the help of the powerful Hubble space telescope, which recently discovered a new water filled planet just 40 light years away to the work of the astrophysicist striving to understanding the mind boggling subject that is the universe, I have no doubt Astronomy will continue to be of great interest for now and the foreseeable future, intriguing my generation and the future generations to come, not to mention as well that it is also a fantastic hobby to which is has been throughout my life, from childhood to adulthood.
Dan Wilson has been in love with Astronomy since the first time he gazed into the sky and saw his first star at the tender age of 9. A budding amateur astronomer, Dan is fascinated by the Universe, and it is that fascination that he wants to share with you.
Why not join him on a journey of discovery into the cosmos at his own little website which he created as a place to express his deep passion of Astronomy
See you there!
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