• Counter :
  • 632
  • Date :
  • 8/9/2010

Astronomy

astronomy

A giant Hubble mosaic of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant Astronomy (from the Greek words astro (??????) = star and nomos (?????) = law) is the scientific study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth’s atmosphere (such as the cosmic background radiation). It is concerned with the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects, as well as the formation and development of the universe.

Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences. Astronomers of early civilizations performed methodical observations of the night sky, and astronomical artifacts have been found from much earlier periods. However, the invention of the telescope was required before astronomy was able to develop into a modern science. Historically, astronomy has included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, the making of calendars, and even astrology, but professional astronomy is nowadays often considered to be synonymous with astrophysics. Since the 20th century, the field of professional astronomy split into observational and theoretical branches.

Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring and analyzing data, mainly using basic principles of physics. Theoretical astronomy is oriented towards the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena.

 The two fields complement each other, with theoretical astronomy seeking to explain the observational results, and observations being used to confirm theoretical results.

Amateur astronomers have contributed to many important astronomical discoveries, and astronomy is one of the few sciences where amateurs can still play an active role, especially in the discovery and observation of transient phenomena.

Old or even ancient astronomy is not to be confused with astrology, the belief system which claims that human affairs are correlated with the positions of celestial objects. Although the two fields share a common origin and a part of their methods (namely, the use of ephemerides), they are distinct.

Lexicology

The word astronomy literally means "law of the stars" (or "culture of the stars" depending on the translation) and is derived from the Greek ??????????, astronomia, from the words ?????? (astron, "star") and ????? (nomos, "laws or cultures").

Use of terms "astronomy" and "astrophysics"

Generally, either the term "astronomy" or "astrophysics" may be used to refer to this subject.

Based on strict dictionary definitions, "astronomy" refers to "the study of objects and matter outside the earth’s atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties" and "astrophysics" refers to the branch of astronomy dealing with "the behavior, physical properties, and dynamic processes of celestial objects and phenomena".

 In some cases, as in the introduction of the introductory textbook The Physical Universe by Frank Shu, "astronomy" may be used to describe the qualitative study of the subject, whereas "astrophysics" is used to describe the physics-oriented version of the subjectHowever, since most modern astronomical research deals with subjects related to physics, modern astronomy could actually be called astrophysics. Various departments that research this subject may use "astronomy" and "astrophysics", partly depending on whether the department is historically affiliated with a physics department, and many professional astronomers actually have physics degrees. Even the name of the scientific journal Astronomy & Astrophysics reveals the ambiguity of the use of the term.

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com

  • Print

    Send to a friend

    Comment (0)