The Science of Astronomy

Ever since humankind has existed, we have looked up at the stars at night to try and fathom out what it all means.

We are still doing that today and the invention of space craft has allowed us to send huge telescopes into orbit around the world. These space telescopes, such as the Hubble and Keppler are not bound or limited by the light pollution that the atmosphere causes and allows us to see deep into space.

The development of infrared technology also allows us to see things in terms of heat and scientists can now even see evidence of supernovas where stars have exploded and become black holes. The sky is truly fascinating. In ancient times, it was thought that the night sky was inhabited by the Gods that looked down on humans and this is why we have constellations that map out shapes in the sky such as Capricorn, Ursa Major and Minor. The ancients also used the night sky as a calendar and the ancient Egyptians took things up a notch by aligning the pyramids with the constellations. It was only recently discovered that they did so, because no one had actually thought to look back to what the sky looked all those thousands of years ago.

Organised religion stifled the study of astronomy in the dark and middle ages because the Church believed that the earth was flat. Gallileo Gallilei was imprisoned for insisting the world was round and his studies eventually debunked the myth that you could sail off the edge of the world. In fact his studies and those of Nicholas Copernicus led to the development of navigation by the stars and a very interesting instrument called the sextant, which allowed new age explorers to plot their course around the world. The Vikings had done that many hundreds of years ago, but their skill in navigation by the stars is now being given recognition.

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