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Astronomy, for those who don't know it, is more than merely looking at the stars, though this is the beginning of the matter. Astronomy led the world to begin to dream in ways that left the abstract cosmology of earthly religion to more enlightened studies, such as geometry, trigonometry, and mathematics itself. It was an astronomer who first defined the properties and importance of prime numbers, for instance.
The pursuit of the stars has led to speculation about what is actually out in the deep, cold, black of the universe, thus making names like Jules Verne, Carl Sagan (actually an astrophysicist, by trade), Gene Roddenberry and Steven Spieldberg household names. Their stories have ignited imaginations and curiosity throughout the planet, leading to even greater ventures. For instance, Roddenberry's fictional series Star Trek gave way to the name of a shuttle being named The Enterprise (along with the popular show's theme song being played by a brass band at the inauguration of the shuttle).
Just what is seen in the night sky has affected our minds and hands, leading to not only fiction, but categorical pursuit of little green men, the vehicles that they zoom about in, and the places that they visit. Today astronomy is not merely a chubby Italian man making sketches of the moon as he peers through a tube that today practically looks like a toy.
Astronomy today entices debate, expense, careers and reputations, and money -heaps of it. NASA, for instance, recently decided it best to make the most of their funding by prioritizing their projects, working on each project systematically, vice haphazardly, that 'the cart not be put before the cart.'
Further, many nations and space agencies are now gearing up for a bit of a space race -or races, plural. There are races to the moon, to finish the space station (and build others), to have the first hotel in space, the first hotel on the moon, and eventually Mars, and even to send a probe to an asteroid cluster and have it actually return - a proposition nearly fulfilled by Japan with her Minerva probe, which sadly, didn't make it back to mother Earth.
The nation of England has recently announced that it will lend pecuniary support to the European Space Agency over the next decade and beyond. This in the wake of the launching of the ESA's Soyuz rocket carrying the Venus Express launched on 10 November '05 to explore our nearest neighbor and to study such interests as global warming (this launch being all the more historic as it took place from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, where both the Sputnik satellite and Yuri Gagarin, the world's first true astronaut also departed the Earth).
So, things are truly heating up in astronomy. The pursuit of studying the stars has taken on a more tangible expression - literally, as we are now retrieving more and more matter from moons, planets and even space dust, all of which are of great importance to truly understanding the makeup of 'those little dots of light in the sky.' Astronomy is no longer a single lone figure (and there have been thousands of them) sitting, studying the night skies. It has become an adventure truly epic. Were the giants of astronomy with us today, they would surely be proud.
Today the universe is growing smaller. Not really, actually it's expanding. The big bang and all that. However, it is growing smaller in the same way that the world has grown smaller with the expansion of exploration that took a giant leap forward in 1492. Nowadays the universe will be explored more and more easily as the days become years. One of the ways which the average person can be a part of this -in a sense, at least, is through reading astronomy magazines. ...read more >>
If you walk into many high schools and colleges around the world, you may find that the astronomy club is amongst the many clubs available to students. Yet, the astronomy club may not be limited to just the academic campuses around the world. There just might be an astronomy club in your community that allows residents to join and observe the stars. These academic clubs are no longer limited to the high schools and colleges, but allow the joy of studying the sky to be available for everyone to enjoy. ...read more >>
Ah, the constellations! Not the heavenly bodies of Kate Moss and her ilk, but the true heavenly bodies. These alignments of stars in recognizable forms gave order to the chaos of so many pinpoints of light within the sky, and so in turn spawned further study of the skies. From this came astronomy, the pseudo-science of astrology, navigation, trigonometry, and even mathematics. ...read more >>
Today there is possibly more interest in the stars and planets than ever before, and subsequently astronomy clubs are springing up all over the world. There are numerous places to get involved with these organizations. ...read more >>
How many times have you stood under the night sky looking up at the stars and spotted the Big Dipper? How about the Orion's Belt? Well, I don't mean to disappoint you, but constellations are not real. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. It is the poets, farmers and astronomers who have made them real for us within the past 6,000 years or so. Basically, the sole purpose of constellations is to help us identify which stars are which. ...read more >>
It has often been asked: What is the greatest invention? Truly, such a hypothetical question has little bearing on anything vice being mere mind candy. And yet, were I to answer this, I would certainly place the printing press and the bicycle in two of the top three spots on my list. ...read more >>
If you've ever looked at astronomy pictures, you know that you are seeing a piece of the oldest known history. Not only are you looking at the present, but also at the same time you're looking at the past. You're looking at something that is silently telling you a tale that is billions of years old, but yet unknown. It is as if these photographs are whispering a mysterious story to us, wanting us to know the secrets they hide for the subjects they embrace. ...read more >>
Astrophotography can be the most rewarding of amateur Astronomy or it can be the most frustrating. It can require a lot of patience and knowledge of exactly where to point the telescope. If pointed in the right direction, you might just catch a nebula or even a far away galaxy. ...read more >>
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