Astronomy: What it is and what it studies

astronomyAstronomy is the natural study of all the celestial bodies within theuniverse that is beyond the earth’s atmosphere; this is not to be confused with Cosmology, which is the study of the universe as a whole. Astronomy includes the studying of the stars, the planets, moons of planets, and the chemistry and evolution of these bodies. Astrophysics is also another science very closely related to astronomy, however astronomy is mainly the observation of the entities in the universe and astrophysics is the study of the physics of these heavenly bodies.

Although astrology was associated with astronomy in the past, it is no longer considered a science and therefore it has nothing to do with astronomy. The scientists who study astronomy are called astronomers and they analyze data collected by visible light, radio waves and all types of radiation that come from outside of the earth’s atmosphere.

Astronomy dates back centuries to early civilizations such as the Greek, Babylonians and Mayans. When the telescope was invented this allowed astronomy to evolve into what it is today, and also allowed common individuals to observe the night skies at a deeper level. In modern astronomy there are two main branches – observational and theoretical. Observational is mainly collecting data from observations of celestial bodies and is then analyzed using the science of physics.

Theoretical astronomy is basically description of astronomical objects using computer or analytical models. These two are complimentary of one another as theoretical is seeking to explain the results from observational studies, and observational is used to confirm the results of theoretical astronomy.