When man first landed on the moon, a large number of people still remained skeptic on the genuineness and authenticity of that particular human feat. In fact, in the then Russia, rumors were spread that the footage being shown about Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” was just a Hollywood-made clip done to show that the
United States is ahead in the race for the last frontier – space. But the accomplishment turned to be true and real, and space expeditions continued on. Man’s fascination of space has been on since time not remembered. In fact, if you ask kids on what they want they want to be when they grow up, on the top three of their list would be becoming an astronaut. But before you can be one, lay down that telescope and let us review some important facts about astronomy.
The word “astronomy” was coined by the combination of two Greek words, astron which means star and nomos which denotes law. There are two types of astronomy, observational – which pertains to observing, acquiring information, assessing these data and forming hypothesis based on standard Physics principle.
The other type which is theoretical astronomy is concerned more on the production and development of analytical computer reproductions inputting basic Physics principle to rationalize and explain further the way celestial bodies move. Because of these two astronomy categories, facts about the heavens above were formulated and reached. Take these examples.
Important Facts to Know About Astronomy
It takes 8 minutes before sunlight reaches the Earth. The sun is also the cause of the ever-changing world weather and the size of the ocean’s currents.
The sun, though massive in area, is just an average-sized star.
How about this important fact to know about astronomy, the lightning is more than twice blistering than the sun.
Some important facts to know about astronomy, specifically the moon – each year, the moon moves away from the earth by 3 centimeters.
The moon is the only other moving body in the universe that man has set foot on.
As far as sailing and directions and astronomy is concerned, the north star, which is also known as Polaris, is the only star that does not move every night, and that is the sole reason why it is an invaluable tool in nautical transports.
Venus, in contrast with the other planets, is the only one that rotates in reverse, from east to west.
The planet Neptune has not completed an orbit around the sun since its discovery 150 years ago.
These are some important facts to know about astronomy and there are a lot more to discover since outer space is so vast.
In a nutshell, Astronomical Artifacts are objects erected or constructed by ancient civilizations that were used in conjunction with the visible celestial bodies that orbited the planet outside the Earth’s atmosphere. Such objects as the stone circles at Nabta Playa in Egypt, as well as the pyramids and the construction of Stonehenge are all considered ancient Astronomical Artifacts.
The civilizations that built these monuments often used these objects for both religious ceremonies and astronomical purposes. There are some theorists that claim the enormous statues on Easter Island also had astronomical symbolism.
Theories and debates over how these objects were created and what they were intended to be used for range from the simple to the extreme. Some believe these monuments were erected by civilizations that were far superior intelligently for their time in history, while others believe they provide evidence of extra-terrestrial visitation and interference with human history.
The pyramids of ancient Egypt were constructed in alignment with the pole star and the Great Temple was built in alignment with the rising of the midwinter sun. These monuments assisted the Egyptians with determining different natural occurrences, such as the annual flooding of the Nile river basin. They also assisted the temple astronomers with following the different phases, conjunctions and rising of such celestial bodies as stars, planets and their natural satellites, or moons.
Stonehenge is another Astronomical Artifact. This monument has a much storied history dating all the way back to 8,000 B.C. There is significant evidence suggesting that at some of its earliest moments in history it was used as a burial facility. Archaeologists have uncovered several grave sites around the area where the stones are actually erected.
They have also found evidence to suggest that several different generations of people used the area for different purposes. Religious rituals and ceremonies were also conducted at this historical site, and several theories exist as to how the stones were actually aligned and what they were intended for, most of which surround religious theories as well as astronomical symbolism in the formation of reading and charting stars and planets.
The Antikythera Mechanism was discovered in 1900 by sponge divers off the coast of the Greek Island Antikythera when they came across an ancient Roman-era shipwreck. This bronze device is about the size of a shoebox and baffled scientists and archaeologists for years.
It wasn’t until very recently that a British researcher, exploring the evidence and inscriptions on the mechanism, was able to identify and establish it as the oldest surviving astronomical computer. It has 30 wheels and dials that are covered in astronomical inscriptions and texts which have been used to decipher and translate ancient Greek languages that haven’t been seen or used in over 2,000 years.
One of the oldest educated and intelligent civilizations in the history of humans is the Sumerians who were also steeped in the knowledge of Astronomy for their period in time. The Mul Apin tablet is an artifact that dates back to the time of the Sumerians. This device contained astronomical information, as well as significant dates for the rising and setting of specific constellations. It also included a record of omens that were predicted by the reading and mapping of celestial objects.
If you want to measure our solar system, how would you do it? This simplest way is to measure it in light years. For those not familiar with the term, a light-year is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one year. This is because the distances between stars is so huge that it is otherwise very challenging to imagine them. A light year is exactly 9,460,730,472,580.8 kilometers. Putting this into real world distances, the Milky Way is approximately 100,000 light-years across.
The Earth is one of nine planets that form the Solar System, so called because the sun, the source of solar energy, is the central point around which all the planets revolve. So far, scientists have not been able to establish or prove the existence of life forms on any other planet within the solar system.
Often, the search for other life forms has focused on looking at the climatic conditions of the celestial body in question. Scientists assume that life forms on a different planet would need similar conditions as life on earth, such as oxygen, light and water, to grow. This may or may not be true.
Other than the sun, no other celestial body significantly affects the earth as the moon does. It is well know that the moon affects the rise and fall of the ocean tide. Such is the effect of the gravitational pull between the earth and the moon. Jupiter is easily the largest planet in our solar system. To put its size in context, Jupiter is more than 300 times the mass of Earth.
Here is the interesting part; Jupiter has 63 moons that orbit it and yet it is not the planet in the Solar System with the most moons. That honor belongs to the ringed-planet Saturn, which has 66 moons identified so far. Pluto, the farthest flung among the nine planets, has been the subject of heated debate on whether it really qualifies to be considered a planet. Nowadays, it is classified as a dwarf planet. Its orbit around the Sun is somewhat heavily elliptical. In fact, there are instances where Pluto is actually closer to the Sun than Neptune, the planet that precedes it.
Now speaking of size within the Solar System, well, let us just say that the Sun is unmatched. Did you know that the Sun comprises more than 99% of the total mass of the entire solar system? Jupiter actually takes up much of the remaining proportion. Surface temperatures on the Sun stand at 5000 Kelvins (4727 degrees Celsius).
With temperatures at its core reaching a 15.6 million Kelvins (15.6 million Celsius), the Sun is truly a celestial spectacle. It gets even better when one realizes that the Sun is classified as a class G star. Stars are classified in six major categories that tie in to the surface temperature and brightness.
The categories are M, K, G, F, A, B and O listed in ascending order brightness and surface temperature. You can see that the Sun falls on the lower end of this classification. Category B and O are rare in the universe while most stars are in the category M and emit less heat and light energy. That said, the Sun is within the 90th percentile by mass among all stars. We have found other stars that are larger than our sun: one is estimated to be approximately 60,000 times bigger.
The Solar System forms a tiny part of the Milky Way Galaxy, a vast conglomeration of stars and planets. What makes astronomy so thrilling is that despite its size, the Milky Way is not the only galaxy in the universe. There are hundreds of billions of galaxies out there, probably more. The closest galaxy to our own Milky Way is Andromeda. Now, brace yourself for the distance: it is 2.3 million light years away.
One of the most exciting phenomena for astronomers is the black hole. It is an area of the universe where the concentration of mass is so massive (no pun intended) that the gravitational pull it generates sucks in everything around it. Everything includes light.
Remember that the escape velocity for any object in the universe is the speed required to escape the objects gravitational pull. The escape velocity for the Earth is slightly over 11 kilometers per hour while for the Moon is 2.5 kilometers per second. Well for a black hole, the escape velocity exceeds the speed of light. That is how strong the pull is.