Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What is Astronomy?

Astronomy is a branch of science that deals with celestial objects like comets, stars, meteors, planets, and galaxies and the incidents which originate outside the atmosphere of the Earth. The study of astronomy is concerned with subjects like evolution, chemistry, physics, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects. It also deals with the formation and development of this vast universe. This will take you through all the different aspects of the science of astronomy and its relevance to human existence. It is one of the oldest sciences whereby early astronomers had carried out methodical observations of the night sky. There are several astronomical artifacts that have been found from much earlier periods but before astronomy could develop into a modern science, the invention of the telescope was required. Earlier the science of astronomy included disciplines like celestial navigation, astrometry, observational astronomy, the making of calendars, as well as astrology.

Today professional astronomy is often equated with astrophysics and since the 20th century it has been split into observational and theoretical branches. Over the years many Amateur astronomers have contributed to significant astronomical discoveries. It must be noted that modern astronomy must not be confused with astrology even though the two fields share a common origin and a part of their methods. There are many research centers and scientific organizations across the world which performs a significant portion of astronomical research. The top leading research centers for astronomical studies are Argonne National Laboratory, AXAF Science Center, Statistical Consulting Center for Astronomy, Solar Data Analysis Center at NASA/Goddard, Space Telescope-European Coordinating Facility, Center for EUV Astrophysics and more. The various branches of astronomy on which research is conducted include Astrobiology, Astrometry, Astrophysics, Cosmology, Galactic astronomy, Extragalactic astronomy, Stellar astronomy, Planetary sciences and others. The other disciplines of astronomy could also include Archaeoastronomy and Astrosociobiology.

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