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Astronomy

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This article is about the scientific study of celestial objects. For other uses, see Astronomy
(disambiguation).
Not to be confused with astrology, the pseudoscience.

A giant Hubble mosaic of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant

The Milky Way as viewed from La Silla Observatory

Astronomy (from Greek: ἀστρονομία) is a natural science that studies celestial


objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry to try and 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 outside Earth's atmosphere. Cosmology is a branch of astronomy. It studies
the Universe as a whole.[1]
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, Nubians, Iranians, 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.[2]
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.
Amateurs play an active role in astronomy. It is one of the few sciences in which this is the case.
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.

Contents

 1Etymology
o 1.1Use of terms "astronomy" and "astrophysics"
 2History
o 2.1Ancient times
o 2.2Middle Ages
o 2.3Scientific revolution
 3Observational astronomy
o 3.1Radio astronomy
o 3.2Infrared astronomy
o 3.3Optical astronomy
o 3.4Ultraviolet astronomy
o 3.5X-ray astronomy
o 3.6Gamma-ray astronomy
o 3.7Fields not based on the electromagnetic spectrum
o 3.8Astrometry and celestial mechanics
 4Theoretical astronomy
 5Specific subfields
o 5.1Astrophysics
o 5.2Astrochemistry
o 5.3Astrobiology
o 5.4Physical cosmology
o 5.5Extragalactic astronomy
o 5.6Galactic astronomy
o 5.7Stellar astronomy
o 5.8Solar astronomy
o 5.9Planetary science
 6Interdisciplinary studies
 7Amateur astronomy
 8Unsolved problems in astronomy
 9See also
 10References
 11Bibliography
 12External links

Etymology[edit]
19th-century, Australia (1873)

19th-century Quito Astronomical Observatory is located 12 minutes south of the Equator in Quito, Ecuador.[3]

Astronomy (from the Greek ἀστρονομία from ἄστρον astron, "star" and -νομία -
nomia from νόμος nomos, "law" or "culture") means "law of the stars" (or "culture of the stars"
depending on the translation). Astronomy should not be confused with astrology, the belief system
which claims that human affairs are correlated with the positions of celestial objects.[4] Although
the two fields share a common origin, they are now entirely distinct.[5]
Use of terms "astronomy" and "astrophysics"[edit]
Generally, both of the terms "astronomy" and "astrophysics" may be used to refer to the same
subject.[6][7][8] Based on strict dictionary definitions, "astronomy" refers to "the study of objects and
matter outside the Earth's atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties,"[9] while
"astrophysics" refers to the branch of astronomy dealing with "the behavior, physical properties, and
dynamic processes of celestial objects and phenomena."[10] I