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Saturday, May 31, 2014

An Introduction to Astronomy and Stargazing

Mankind has always been fascinated with the heavens since time immemorial. Stargazing was not just a pastime on lovely nights. People navigated the seas and crossed continents with stars as their guide. They even thought the constellations charted their fates. But that was before the giant leap from astrology to astronomy. 


Astronomy literally means 'law of the stars,' from the Greek words 'Astron' (star) and 'nomos' (law), but astronomers would rather accurately define it as 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), and is concerned with the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects, as well as the formation and development of the universe.'

However, long-winded Wikipedia's definition seems, don't let it tick you off. There's more to astronomy than theories, calculations, and tedious observations. One thing's certain, though: astronomy is not for jocks.

However, don't get the impression that you need a PhD in astrophysics to get suitably curious with the fascinating display of stars on a clear moonless night. Amateur astronomers have made many important astronomical discoveries. In fact, astronomical societies encourage the involvement of amateur observers, the sky being too wide for just professional astronomers to cover.

By Jim Oneil

Article Source:  An Introduction to Astronomy and Stargazing

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