“Astronomy is a science that studies the composition and formation of celestial bodies and the phenomena that occur in the Universe. It is considered the oldest of the sciences, having originated thousands of years ago, based on the observation of the behavior of stars in the heavens.
The emergence of instruments and technological improvement allowed for great achievements and discoveries in the field of astronomy, which includes evidence of how the Universe emerged, the walk on the surface of the Moon and the first image of a black hole .
Professionals trained in astronomy receive the title of astronomers, and can work with research and scientific dissemination and also in museums, observatories and planetariums.”
History of astronomy
“Arising from human curiosity about how the stars behave in the sky, astronomy is considered the oldest science in the world. Astronomical observations date back thousands of years before the Common Era , with Egyptian people living in the region of Aswan, where the site of Nabta Playa is located. A circle of stones was built there, used to determine the arrival of the summer solstice, being one of the first physical records of how the position of the stars and their interaction with planet Earth were important in the daily life of ancient civilizations.
Structures as important as the one at Nabta Playa were built in northern Europe around 3000 BC, such as the Stonehenge monument in Wiltshire, England. In addition to its religious and spiritual purpose, the circles of this construction were used to identify the beginning and end of the winter and summer solstices in the Northern Hemisphere.
Other ancient peoples, such as Babylonians and Assyrians , were also responsible for major contributions to astronomy, some of which are identified in records on clay tablets in cuneiform script. The tablets that were preserved are now on display in museums, such as the British Museum in England .
Over time, Greeks, Chinese, Arabs and Indians perfected astronomy and introduced new propositions and elements (obtained based on mathematical calculations) to this field of knowledge, giving it the multidisciplinary character that it exhibits today. The Greeks are credited with the systematization of astronomy and the principle of its theorization, with emphasis on names such as Anaximenes of Miletus , Pythagoras , Aristotle , Hipparchus and Ptolemy.
The pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas , such as the Incas , the Mayans and the Aztecs , in addition to maintaining a spiritual relationship with the stars, guided themselves through them, and even had monuments from which they observed the passage of time, the seasons (which was important to know the most suitable time for planting and harvesting), and also sought to represent the celestial bodies and a model of other worlds and the Universe.
In the sixteenth century, in Europe, the writings of Nicolaus Copernicus represented a milestone in astronomical science. The Polish mathematician refuted Claudius Ptolemy’s thesis that the Solar System was geocentric, that is, it had the Earth at its center. Thus, Copernicus proposed the heliocentric model , which said that the Sun was the center of the Solar System, and it was around it that the planets revolved.
Also in the 16th century, the Dane Tycho Brahe built an astronomical observatory on an island near Copenhagen, still without the aid of instruments such as telescopes, known for the accuracy of his observations, such as the position of the planet Mars . A contemporary of him, John Kepler was responsible for the models that described the orbits of planets around the Sun, from which Kepler’s three laws derive .
In the 17th century, the Italian Galileo Galilei made very important contributions to astronomy and science as a whole. In the astronomical field, he built his own telescope , through which he made a series of discoveries, such as the stars that formed the Milky Way, some of Jupiter ‘s moons , sunspots on Venus and the irregularity of the surface of the Moon . Furthermore, Galileo proved Copernicus’ heliocentric model .
The period from the 17th to the 20th century was marked by great discoveries in the field of astronomy and physics, with emphasis on Isaac Newton , Edmund Halley , Albert Einstein and Edwin Hubble. Technical improvement and the advent of new instruments, from the second half of the 20th century onwards, allowed for more precise observations and the discovery, for example, of the cosmic microwave background radiation, a fundamental proof of the expansion of the Universe.
In 1969, a NASA mission placed the first astronauts to walk on the surface of the Moon, a feat accomplished by Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin. Almost six decades later, in 2022, the Artemis mission was launched , with the aim of repeating the lunar walk. Recent discoveries provided by technological advances include the first image of a black hole, released by NASA in 2019, and the sound these structures emit, released in 2022, thus demonstrating the constant evolution of astronomical science.”
“Abstract about astronomy
Astronomy studies celestial bodies and the phenomena of the Universe.
- It is the oldest science in the world.
- Astronomical science is divided into eight complementary branches of study, which include areas such as cosmology and astrophysics.
- It arose from curiosity about the stars in the sky, whose observations began thousands of years before the present. Ancient civilizations already built stone monuments that helped determine the passage of time and the seasons and identify the solstices .
- Important contributions to astronomy were made, during the 16th and 17th centuries, by names such as Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei .
- The emergence of new technologies and the improvement of astronomical science provided great achievements in later periods.
- The faculty of astronomy trains astronomers, who work mainly in scientific research and dissemination. In Brazil, three institutions offer the course for free.
- Astronomy and astrology are not the same thing. Astrology is considered a pseudoscience that analyzes the influence of the stars on our life and personality.”
“By definition, astronomy studies the different celestial bodies and objects that are part of the Universe, among which the following stand out:
- stars ;
- moons ;
- star clusters;
- planets ;
- meteorites ;
- asteroids ;
- galaxies ;
- nebulae .”
Branches of astronomy
Astronomy works with very complex themes that are approached by different branches of this science. Previously divided into observational (observation of the stars and data collection) and theoretical (development of models and theories based on collected data), astronomy today is composed of the following branches:
studies the origin, evolution and future of life in the Universe. It is one of the newest fields in astronomy.
is a branch of both astronomy and physics that applies the principles of physics to understand the properties, dynamics and interactions between different objects and phenomena in the Universe.
also called positional astronomy, astrometry is the branch that studies and calculates the position and movement of celestial bodies, in addition to analyzing exoplanets. Through astrometry, it is possible to predict eclipses and meteor showers.
studies the chemical composition of celestial bodies and the reactions between the different particles that make up the Universe and its elements.
studies the classification and also the life cycle of stars.
studies the Solar System and all the elements that form it, such as planets and moons, delving into topics such as the formation and evolution of planets and their geological composition.
studies the structure, formation, development and death of galaxies, such as the Milky Way.
although used as a synonym for astronomy in many cases, it is actually one of the branches of study of this science. She is dedicated to understanding the origin of the Universe as a whole, as well as its evolution and structure. It includes topics such as dark energy, dark matter and string theory .”
Difference between astronomy and astrology
Many people confuse astrology with astronomy, which, despite having some similarities, have completely different definitions and meanings.
While astronomy is enshrined as the science responsible for studying all celestial bodies, astrology is considered a pseudoscience.
Astrology claims that celestial bodies have an influence on people’s lives and personalities.
Anyone who practices astrology is called an astrologer .
Normally, astrology is related to some religious and spiritual doctrines, such as witchcraft, for example.