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Astronomy

From Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia written in simple English for easy reading.

Astronomy is looking at and study of the planets, stars, galaxies, and other objects found in outer space. Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences. It has been practiced long before written history began.

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[edit] Astronomy a long time ago

The early astronomers were traders and sailors who needed the stars to guide them at night, and farmers who needed by the rising and setting of certain constellations to find out that planting, flooding, or harvesting times were coming. There were also the ancient people who built stuff like Stonehenge, and the native North American medicine wheels, for unknown, but probably sacred, reasons. They needed accurate knowledge of the phases of the Moon, the most north and most south seasonal points of the sun, and other information for their purposes.

Some people thought they could predict the future by studying where the planets were in the sky when a person was born. Even though people don't think this is a science now, these astrologers kept careful records of what they saw. These observations were very important to astronomers during the past two centuries when they were trying to understand the Universe.

[edit] Being an astronomer

Not only is astronomy very old, but it is also one that regular people can do with very cheap equipment. Amateur astronomers have discovered a lot of new and useful stuff, usually about new asteroids or comets, but sometimes about events such as the birth or death of stars. While some astronomy does take a great amount of money (for example, a project like the Hubble Space Telescope), good astronomy can be done with a simple pair of binoculars.

In fact, binoculars are the best tool for a new astronomer. Many new astronomers buy expensive or poorly made telescopes, but do not know how to use them, do not know what they are looking at, and soon become frustrated and go on to another hobby. Amateurs should buy books or charts showing the constellations and the important stars they contain. If they are serious, they will take time to learn and understand the motions of the Earth, the moon, and the planets. They will spend some time working and learning with only their eyes and a simple journal like a notebook.

Binoculars are an excellent tool for a beginner, because they are inexpensive, they do not need to be set up or taken down, they are easy to use, and they let the user see interesting things such as the moon's craters, double stars, many star clusters such as the Pleiades, and the moons of other planets. Binoculars are even better than telescopes for looking at things such as the closer galaxies or very bright comets. After an amateur astronomer has taken some time to learn and understand the night sky, then it is time to buy a telescope.

[edit] Kinds of astronomy

Astronomy has become a very large science in the past few hundred years, and has many branches.

Lunar astronomers study the moon, while planetary astronomers focus their attention on the planets of our Solar System, as well as the planets discovered around other suns. Some astronomers specialize in particular types of stars, such as binary stars or pulsars. Others study distant galaxies.

There are also astronomers who never look at the sky at all. These theoretical astronomers use the laws of physics and mathematics in combination with computers to create models of how the universe behaves, then they compare their models to what is observed. Their goal is to understand and predict the events which happen in the universe, and how the universe was formed.

[edit] Related topics

[edit] See also

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