Observational Astronomy

Observational astronomy is a division of the astronomical science that is concerned with getting data, in contrast with theoretical astrophysics, which is mainly concerned with finding out the measurable implications of physical models. It is the practice of observing celestial objects by using telescopes and other astronomical apparatus.

As a science, astronomy is somewhat hindered in that direct experiments with the properties of the distant universe are not possible. However, this is partly compensated by the fact that astronomers have a vast number of visible examples of stellar phenomena that can be examined. This allows for observational data to be plotted on graphs, and general trends recorded. Nearby examples of specific phenomena, such as variable stars, can then be used to infer the behavior of more distant representatives. Those distant yardsticks can then be employed to measure other phenomena in that neighborhood, including the distance to a galaxy.

Read more about Observational AstronomyTelescopes, Optical Telescopes, Other Instruments, Observation Tools, Observing

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Observational Astronomy - Observing
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Observational Astronomy - Astrometry and Celestial Mechanics
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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)