Welcome to the Sola Virtus Astronomical and Weather Observatory
"Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their hosts by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth." Isaiah 40:26.
History of Astronomy
From around 3000 BC onwards, astronomy in its most primitive form had developed. The sun, moon and changing seasons would have already been well studied. Perhaps the chief difference in thinking at that time was that the earth was flat. People genuinely believed that if you went far enough you would fall off the edge.
Astronomy may be the oldest of the natural sciences, dating back to antiquity with its origins in the religious practices of pre-history: vestiges of these are still found in astrology, a discipline long interwoven with astronomy, and not completely different from it until about 1750 to 1800 in the Western World. Early astronomy involved observing the regular patterns of the motions of visible celestial objects, especially the Sun, Moon, stars and naked eye planets. An example of this early astronomy might involve a study of the changing position of the Sun along the horizon or the changing appearances of stars in the course of the year, which could be used to establish an agricultural or ritual calendar. In some cultures astronomical data was used for astrological prognostication.
Ancient astronomers were able to differentiate between stars and planets, as stars remain relatively fixed over the centuries while planets will move an appreciable amount during a comparatively short time.
The real renaissance of astronomy began with Nicholaus Copernicus, who advanced the idea that the Sun is in the center of the Solar System. Armed with the excellent naked-eye observations of Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler formulated his Three Laws of Planetary Motion, which, for the first time, correctly described the way the planets move through the Solar System. Galileo Galilei was the first person to use a telescope to look at celestial bodies (though he did not invent the telescope) and discovered the four brightest moons of Jupiter, proving that there are things in the Solar System that don't revolve around the Sun.
Since Galileo's time, astronomy has made great strides, but, surprisingly, as late as the 1920's, astronomers were still debating about whether other galaxies were simply nearby nebulae, or if they were faraway "island universes," made up of billions of stars. The first planets outside our solar system were not discovered until 1991, and we did not find any planets around normal stars until 1995.
Astronomy and Science News
Science news stories courtesy of ABC Science Online.
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American Meteor Society
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