Astronomy, the study of the
motions and nature of the sun, moon, stars, planets, and other
celestial bodies. Thus, astronomy might be called the science of
matter and energy as they are manifested in the universe.
Astronomers bring to this study the resources of the
mathematician, the chemist, and the physicist. Until recent
years, astronomy was a purely observational science. However, the
advent of artificial satellites and space probes has freed the
astronomer from the limitation of only being able to peer into
his celestial laboratory with a telescope. The space age has
presented the astronomer with a means of injecting his
instruments into his laboratory, of carrying them into close
proximity of the celestial bodies he is studying. Hence,
astronomy has become an experimental science. (See also Space
Astronomy is one of the oldest of the sciences. Ancient astronomers observed the motions and relative positions of celestial objects for ritual purposes or in an effort to foretell the destinies of nations and individuals, to measure time, to predict eclipses, to establish dates for planting, and for navigation. The ideas and methods for the solution of the practical problems have long since been worked out. Present-day advances in practical astronomy consist mainly of refinements of techniques and instrumentation to meet the contemporary demands for accuracy. (See also Calendar; Time.)
Few astronomers are now actively concerned with the practical side of astronomy. Such matters are usually dealt with by the staffs of national observatories, such as the U.S. Naval Observatory at Washington, D.C., and the Royal Greenwich Observatory, Cambridge, England. Most of the time and effort of astronomers is now expended in theoretical or observational studies of the structure of the universe.
The bulk of astronomical work is carried on by highly trained astronomers in elaborately equipped university and government observatories. However, unlike those branches of science in which research and invention are confined to the laboratory, astronomy offers participation to hundreds of amateur observers throughout the world. Amateurs gather scientifically useful data on variable stars and novas, artificial satellites, meteors, comets, sunspots and solar flares, auroral displays, and changing features on the surfaces of the moon and the planets.
This sector of my site starts with Astronomy but branches off into many other topics which you will find in the form of complimentary links throughout all of the other pages. These other topics are in some way relative to the sectors of the pages that they are found in. We hope you find this site enjoyable and informative and if you feel that something else needs to be added to it please feel free to e-mail us.