Have you ever looked up in the night sky and wondered what you might see if you knew a little more about astronomy? The fact is, astronomy is for everybody and not just for those with a PhD in astrophysics. With a little effort everyone can experience the pleasures of looking up at the marvels of the universe. You just need to know where to look and you don’t even need a telescope to start.
It’s only been about 400 years since Galileo first pointed his telescope to the stars. For thousands of years the only instrument we had were our own two eyes. True, early star-gazers had no idea what they were looking at but they charted the stars with marvelous precision.
They knew the planets moved faster in the sky than stars did. Planet actually means “wandering star”. The ancients charted the visible planets (Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus) and considered them gods. Neptune and Pluto are invisible to the naked eye but curiously, Neptune and Pluto both have a long and varied place in mythology dating back thousands of years.
All you need to start is to learn how to use a star chart. After all, you can’t look at Jupiter if you don’t know where to find it. First, use the correct chart. Each season requires its own chart and you need to use the proper chart for the hemisphere you live in, either the northern or southern hemisphere. Also, there will be a chart for before midnight and after midnight.
With a little practice you will be able to orient your chart to the sky. A compass might come in useful here to find north and south. Once you have the chart oriented you can start to look for patterns in the sky. The charts will help by showing the brighter stars as a larger dot and smaller dots for dimmer stars. It would also help to find a place away from the light pollution of the cities so you will be able to see the fainter stars. Once you can identify the stars you are looking at then you will be ready to start identifying the constellations.
The constellations are patterns of stars which were given meaning by associating them with the gods or objects. There are many constellations and finding them gets easier with practice. The Big Dipper is probably one you’ve seen many times. This is actually a part of a larger constellation called Ursa-Major.
Near it are constellations such as Ursa-Minor (The Little Dipper), Leo (The Lion) and Virgo. Learning the constellations will come in very handy when you want to observe objects such as planets because the planets will move throughout the sky and the constellations make a good sign post.
You have now started your journey to the stars and will probably want some equipment to enhance the experience. A good set of binoculars and a telescope will be the next step and perhaps even a camera to capture your own images. Take your time to learn more about astronomy before you start purchasing your equipment so you can get the most enjoyment from them and remember to keep watching the skies.
Astronomy consists observations and theory of the solar system, stars, galaxies and the general structures of the space. People who are studying astronomy are called astronomers, with a variety of ways to conduct their researches.
Those methods typically involve the ideas of physics, like most astronomers, astrophysicists and astronomers and astrophysicists are substantially identical. Astronomy is the oldest type of science, thousands of years ago, when primitive people, objects seen in the sky over their heads and observe how objects move.
In ancient Egypt, there was the first appearance of certain stars every year marks the beginning of the flood season, an important event for agriculture. In England in the seventeenth century, astronomy provides methods to keep track of the time were particularly useful for precise navigation.
Astronomy has had a long tradition of concrete results, as our current understanding of stars, day and night, seasons and moon phases. Most current researches in astronomy do not deal with immediate practical problems. It is basic research to satisfy our curious about the universe that we don’t understand and the objects they contain. One day, this knowledge may be of practical use for humans in this world.
Astronomers use tools such as telescopes, digital cameras, and super computers to analyze the light emitted by astronomical objects. Amateur astronomers are observing the sky as hobbies. Professional astronomers will be paid for their researches and usually work for large companies and institutions such as schools, universities, observatories and research institutions of government.
A wide range of astronomical objects accessible amateur astronomers. There are so many solar system objects like planets, comets and moons are bright enough to be seen by binoculars and small telescopes. Those small telescopes are sufficient to reach some of the finer details of the fog, clouds of dust and gas in our galaxy.
There are so many amateur astronomers are observing and taking photographs these objects. The increase of uses of sophisticated electronic equipments and computers in the last decades a strong economic team, and could extend to the astronomers report their observations. Amateur astronomers to their views, by sharing your photos based on the
World Wide Web, an information network for connections between computers.
Fans are likely to undertake projects that require many observations of the days, weeks, months or even years. Search the sky for a long time, amateur astronomers can see the things in the sky, the sudden change, such as new comets (stars light up suddenly). This monitoring is also useful for the study of objects moving slowly over time, such as variable stars and binaries.
The amateur astronomers are observing meteor showers, sunspots and groups of planets and also the moon. Also take part in expeditions to the places where special astronomical events like eclipses and meteor showers are visible. Several organizations like the League of astronomy and the American Association of Variable Star Observer offer conferences and publications to communicate by astronomers and can leave their comments.
For centuries man has rediscovered himself and the world around him by gazing at the stars. It is almost as if man had an intuitive feel about the vastness of knowledge that is stored within these stars. Gradually as more and more familiarity evolved and mankind started on a path of discovery of the hidden knowledge of these shiny sparkles of light through the science of Astronomy.
Through the science of Astronomy we can know more about the process of the creation of the stars as well as the history of the universe. Through the various sophisticated processes that are involved in the science of astronomy, we can also measure the distance of separation of one star from the other as well as forecast the time when they will be destroyed.
As mankind learned more about the stars through Astronomy and its allied sciences, the use of imagination was merged with this newly gained knowledge through which we could also visualize shapes and characters in the various groups of stars.
We named them in accordance with these characteristics and termed them to be scientifically as constellations. This was the perfect blend of the science and the arts and allowed us to become even more involved in this process of getting to know more about our celestial neighbors.
The science of Astronomy also allows us to gain enough knowledge about the stars through which we can differentiate between stars and celestial bodies which are not starts. Through this knowledge we can also identify other stars, even though visually they may look different. An example of this can be the Sun. though visually very different from a normal star, yet the Sun has been proved to be, beyond a doubt, a star… through the study of Astronomy.
Astronomy refers to “the study of objects and matter (e.g. stars, planets, comets and galaxies) outside the Earth’s atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties”. The word astronomy (from the Greek words astron “star” and -nomy from nomos, “law” or “culture”) literally means “law of the stars” (or “culture of the stars” depending on the translation). There are 1000’s of terms or definitions that you will find once you start investigating astronomy. What are the 10 definitions as a beginner you most need to know?
1. STAR: a self-heating ball of glowing gas. The Sun is the star nearest the Earth which powers life on Earth.
2. PLANETS: a large, round object orbiting a star. Earth is the planet we live on and is the third planet from the Sun. The other 7 planets in our solar system are called: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. There used to be a ninth planet called Pluto but this is now classed as a dwarf planet.
3. MOON: a natural satellite – an object orbiting a planet. Earth has one moon, though there are hundreds in our solar system.
4. COMET: a space snowball made of dust, rock and ice that orbits the Sun. Comets have tails when they are near the sun.
5. GALAXY: a large system of stars, gas, dust and empty space that rotates but is held together by gravity. Earth and its solar system are part of a galaxy called the Milky Way.
6. ASTEROID: a minor planet, actually just a giant rock, usually one that circles the Sun. There are hundreds of thousands in our solar system and more are being discovered all the time.
7. UNIVERSE: Everything! The Earth and its Moon, the Sun, the planets of the solar system, and all the galaxies – even things we haven’t yet discovered. Experts believe it’s just under 14 billion light years old.
8. BLACK HOLE: an area with a gravitational pull so strong that it sucks in anything that comes in too close.
9. SOLAR SYSTEM: The planets, moons, dwarf planets, comets, asteroids and dust that orbit the Sun, held by its gravity.
10. GRAVITY: the attraction between everything in the Universe. Gravity makes Earth and the other planets in the solar system orbit the Sun, and the moon rotate around the Earth.
Astronomers are people who study our Universe and they use telescopes to observe the night sky. An observatory is any place used to look into space. Optical observatories have a dome, often in a high-up location, housing a telescope. The roof can be opened to look at the sky. There are also radio observatories with big dishes and space based observatories – telescopes floating in space.