Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects (such as moons, planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies); the physics, chemistry, and evolution of such objects; and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth (such as supernovae, gamma ray bursts, and cosmic background radiation). A related but distinct subject, cosmology, is concerned with studying the universe as a whole.

Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences. Prehistoric cultures left behind astronomical artifacts such as the Egyptian monuments and Nubian monuments, and early civilizations such as the Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians, Iranians and Maya performed methodical observations of the night sky. However, the invention of the telescope was required before astronomy was able to develop into a modern science. Historically, astronomy has included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, and the making of calendars, but professional astronomy is nowadays often considered to be synonymous with astrophysics.

During the 20th century, the field of professional astronomy split into observational and theoretical branches. Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring data from observations of celestial objects, which is then analyzed using basic principles of physics. Theoretical astronomy is oriented towards the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. The two fields complement each other, with theoretical astronomy seeking to explain the observational results, and observations being used to confirm theoretical results.

Amateur astronomers have contributed to many important astronomical discoveries, and astronomy is one of the few sciences where amateurs can still play an active role, especially in the discovery and observation of transient phenomena.

Astronomy is not to be confused with astrology, the belief system which claims that human affairs are correlated with the positions of celestial objects. Although the two fields share a common origin they are now entirely distinct.

Read more about Astronomy:  Lexicology, History, Observational Astronomy, Theoretical Astronomy, Interdisciplinary Studies, Amateur Astronomy, Unsolved Problems in Astronomy

Other articles related to "astronomy":

Ernst Zinner
... Silesia – 30 August 1970) was a German astronomer and noted historian of astronomy ... During this time his main astronomical work centered on stellar astronomy ... speciality and interest, however, was Renaissance Astronomy and the history of astronomical instruments, an area in which he started working in 1925 ...
Unsolved Problems in Astronomy
... physics Although the scientific discipline of astronomy has made tremendous strides in understanding the nature of the universe and its contents, there remain some important ...
History Of Scientific Method - Early Methodology
... By the middle of the 1st millennium BC in Mesopotamia, Babylonian astronomy had evolved into the earliest example of a scientific astronomy, as it was "the first and highly successful attempt at giving ... In Protagoras (318d-f), Plato mentions the teaching of arithmetic, astronomy and geometry in schools ...
Catalina Sky Survey - Educational Outreach
... The CSS has helped with Astronomy Camp showing campers how they detect NEO's ... even played a role in an astrophotography exercise with the 2006 Adult Astronomy Camp ending up with a picture that was featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day ...
Oscar Monnig - Astronomy - Meteoritical Collection
... He questioned witnesses of meteoroid detonations or bolides and organized and financed searching expeditions ... He paid 1 dollar per pound, a price that museums could not match at the time of the Great Depression ...

Famous quotes containing the word astronomy:

    Awareness of the stars and their light pervades the Koran, which reflects the brightness of the heavenly bodies in many verses. The blossoming of mathematics and astronomy was a natural consequence of this awareness. Understanding the cosmos and the movements of the stars means understanding the marvels created by Allah. There would be no persecuted Galileo in Islam, because Islam, unlike Christianity, did not force people to believe in a “fixed” heaven.
    Fatima Mernissi, Moroccan sociologist. Islam and Democracy, ch. 9, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co. (Trans. 1992)

    It is noticed, that the consideration of the great periods and spaces of astronomy induces a dignity of mind, and an indifference to death.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)