Portal:Astronomy

The Astronomy Portal

Introduction

A man sitting on a chair mounted to a moving platform, staring through a large telescope.

Astronomy (from Ancient Greek ἀστρονομία (astronomía) 'science that studies the laws of the stars') is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets. Relevant phenomena include supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, astronomy studies everything that originates beyond Earth's atmosphere. Cosmology is a branch of astronomy that studies the universe as a whole.

Astronomy is one of the oldest natural sciences. The early civilizations in recorded history made methodical observations of the night sky. These include the Babylonians, Greeks, Indians, Egyptians, Chinese, Maya, and many ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas. In the past, astronomy included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, and the making of calendars. Nowadays, professional astronomy is often said to be the same as astrophysics.

Professional astronomy is split into observational and theoretical branches. Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring data from observations of astronomical objects. This data is then analyzed using basic principles of physics. Theoretical astronomy is oriented toward the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. These two fields complement each other. Theoretical astronomy seeks to explain observational results and observations are used to confirm theoretical results.

Astronomy is one of the few sciences in which amateurs play an active role. This is especially true for the discovery and observation of transient events. Amateur astronomers have helped with many important discoveries, such as finding new comets. (Full article...)

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Portrait of Kepler by an unknown artist in 1620.

Johannes Kepler (/ˈkɛplər/; German: [joˈhanəs ˈkɛplɐ, -nɛs -] (listen); 27 December 1571 – 15 November 1630) was a German astronomer, mathematician, astrologer, natural philosopher and writer on music. He is a key figure in the 17th-century Scientific Revolution, best known for his laws of planetary motion, and his books Astronomia nova, Harmonice Mundi, and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae. These works also provided one of the foundations for Newton's theory of universal gravitation.

Kepler was a mathematics teacher at a seminary school in Graz, where he became an associate of Prince Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg. Later he became an assistant to the astronomer Tycho Brahe in Prague, and eventually the imperial mathematician to Emperor Rudolf II and his two successors Matthias and Ferdinand II. He also taught mathematics in Linz, and was an adviser to General Wallenstein.

Additionally, he did fundamental work in the field of optics, invented an improved version of the refracting (or Keplerian) telescope, and was mentioned in the telescopic discoveries of his contemporary Galileo Galilei. He was a corresponding member of the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome. (Full article...)

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M82 HST ACS 2006-14-a-large web.jpg
Credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Messier 82, also known as NGC 3034, Cigar Galaxy, and M82, is the prototype starburst galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. The starburst galaxy is five times more luminous than the whole Milky Way, and one hundred times more luminous than our galaxy's center. This mosaic image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, is the sharpest wide-angle view ever obtained of Messier 82.

Astronomy News

9 August 2022 – Discoveries of exoplanets
Radio astronomers have discovered a newborn, Jupiter-size exoplanet orbiting the star AS 209, using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array telescope in Chile. (Space.com)
26 April 2022 –
In the morning, the Moon, Jupiter, and Venus are seen aligning with each other. (Space.com)
4 April 2022 – Discoveries of exoplanets
Astronomers announce the discovery of K2-2016-BLG-0005Lb, an exoplanet that is said to resemble Jupiter. The discovery was made using the now-retired Kepler space telescope. (ScienceAlert)
30 March 2022 –
The Hubble Space Telescope observes the most distant single star ever. The star, named Earendel by astronomers, is 28 billion light-years away. It is the farthest detection of a star, dating back 900 million years after the Big Bang. This discovery surpasses Hubble's record from 2018, when it discovered a star that existed when the universe was roughly four billion years old. (CNN)
21 March 2022 – Discoveries of exoplanets
NASA announces that they have discovered their 5000th exoplanet since 1992, when astronomers Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail announced the discovery of two exoplanets orbiting PSR B1257+12. (Science News)

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