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The scope of astronomy
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Celebrate the anniversary of a revolutionary discovery by gathering with other astronomers to observe planetary nebulae in August's evening sky. Forty years after the last human visitors departed the Moon aboard Apollo 17, space historian Andrew Chaikin talks about why we should return. The colorful history of one of astronomy's rarest events — the transit of Venus — was discussed at the recent IAU conference in Beijing, China.

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Pluto, quasars, and total solar eclipses over Easter Island were just a few of the topics that came up at the close of the first week of the international astronomy conference in Beijing. Read the third and final chapter of transits of Venus in history, as the transits went from being a crucial scientific measurement to an observing curiosity. Read the full account — in three parts — of the history behind the upcoming transit of Venus.

The History of Astronomy

The genius who designed the modern Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, and then shaped its role in changing the face of amateur astronomy, died on Tuesday. Twenty-five years ago, a star exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The first easily seen supernova since before astronomers turned telescopes to study the heavens, the explosion heralded a new age of astronomy. In case you haven't heard, there's a rumor going around that the world will end on December 21, Did the Mayans really predict the world would end then? Is the astronomy for real? Do we have anything to worry about? Not surprisingly, the answers are "no," "no," and "of course not.

History of Astronomy -

During his time at Caltech in the s, Russell Porter cast this beautiful sundial to adorn the campus. But it was stolen sometime during the s — do you know where it is?

History of Astronomy Part 1: The Celestial Sphere and Early Observations

Less-direct measurements must be used for more-distant stars and for galaxies. Two general methods for determining galactic distances are described here. In the first, a clearly identifiable type of star is used as a reference standard because its luminosity has been well determined.

This requires observation of such stars that are close enough to Earth that their distances and luminosities have been reliably measured. Once the luminosities of such nearer standard candles have been calibrated , the distance to a farther standard candle can be calculated from its calibrated luminosity and its actual measured intensity. A standard candle can be identified by means of its spectrum or the pattern of regular variations in brightness.

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Corrections may have to be made for the absorption of starlight by interstellar gas and dust over great distances. This method forms the basis of measurements of distances to the closest galaxies. The second method for galactic distance measurements makes use of the observation that the distances to galaxies generally correlate with the speeds with which those galaxies are receding from Earth as determined from the Doppler shift in the wavelengths of their emitted light. H has been used to determine distances to remote galaxies in which standard candles have not been found.

For additional discussion of the recession of galaxies, the Hubble law, and galactic distance determination, see physical science: Astronomy.

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See Article History. The scope of astronomy Since the late 19th century astronomy has expanded to include astrophysics , the application of physical and chemical knowledge to an understanding of the nature of celestial objects and the physical processes that control their formation, evolution, and emission of radiation. Facts Matter. Start Your Free Trial Today. Load Next Page. Additional Reading. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.

History of Astronomy

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