Stellar Astronomy Introduction …

Stellar astronomy is the study of stars, however, there are planets, galaxies, nebulae and many other objects that make up the universe. Astronomers observe the locations and motions of heavenly bodies. However, almost all astronomers are interested in more than just observing these objects. They also seek answers to such questions as “of what are stars made?” and “How do they create their light?”. For this reason, some astronomers are also astrophysicists. They study physical and chemical processes that occur in the universe in order to gain a greater understanding of the universe.

Astronomers work in many specialized areas. For example, stellar astronomy is simply the study of stars. Solar astronomers study the Sun – the star nearest the earth. Planetary astronomers study conditions on the planets. Cosmologists study the structures and history of the universe as a whole, developing the big theories such as the Big Bang, Steady State and String theories.

Unlike most other sciences, stellar astronomy and planetary astronomy are fields in which amateurs can make significant contributions. For example, amateur astronomers play an important role in the study of variable stars. Such stars vary in brightness over time. The study of these stars provides information about distances in the universe. But there are too many variable stars for professionals to keep track of them. Members interested in this accessible field of stellar astronomy can join the variable star section of the British Astronomical Association and the JAS (Junior Astronomical Association) in the UK; the American Association of variable star Observers, make many of the observations of these stars. Some other amateur groups work together in search of stars that brighten suddenly. Such a star is called a nova or supernova. Amateur astronomers also observe and photograph the moon, planets, and galaxies as well as eclipses and other astronomical events.

Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences. The oldest branches of astronomy are essentially stellat astronomy and planetary astronomy as they can be pursued using just the naked eye. Cosmology was in existence but a a rudimentary level based on guesswork and myth.

Astronomy began in ancient times with the observation that the heavenly bodies go through regular cycles of motion. throughout history, the study of these cycles has served such practical purposes as keeping time, marking the arrival of the seasons, and navigating accurately at sea.

As early as 200 B.C., the Babylonians charted the positions of the heavenly bodies to predict events on the earth. The making of such predictions is called astrology and is based on the belief that the positions of stars and planets influence what happens on the earth. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans also predicted astrology, and many early astronomers believed in it.

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