Today is World Astronomy Day and to mark the date, we want you to know a little bit more about this amazing science!
What is Astronomy?
Astronomy is the science that studies celestial bodies – like stars, planets, comets, nebulae or galaxies – and all of the phnomena that has its origin outside Earth’s atmosphere with the goal of analyzing the origin, movement, constitution and development of the Universe.
It is known that Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences in the World because there have been found many ancient objects belonging to prehistoric people! The ancient civilizations of Babylon, Greece and even the Mayan people used to make methodical observations of the night sky and have achieved major breakthroughs in Astronomy, however it is since the invention of the telescope that this science really began to develop into the Modern Astronomy as we know it.
Get to know some of the most famous astronomers:
Eratosthenes (276 BC – 195 BC) At a time when most people thought that the world was a flat surface, this greek mathematician, astronomer and geographer used the Sun to measure the Earth’s size and conclude that our planet was, after all, round. Actually his measures were off only by 340 km when compared to our planets’ real size!
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) this polish astronomer and mathematician developed the Heliocentrism Theory – the one that places the Sun as the center of our Solar System, thus opposing the Geocentric Model, accepted at the time (and that placed the Earth as the center of our system). This is considered one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time and many have considered it as the starting point of Astronomy.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) Considered the father of Modern Astronomy, though he did not invented the telescope he was the first to use it scientifically.
He discovered the laws of the parabolic movement, the mountains and craters of the Moon, discovered that the Milky Way is made up of thounds of stars but it was only when he observed Jupiters’ satellites and the phases of Venus that he started defending the Copernical Model of Heliocentrism, which made him start beign persecuted by the Catholic Church.
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) As one of the greatest scientists of all time, Isaac Newton made achievements in many areas of study (Physics, Mathematics, Astronomy, Alchemy, Philosophy and Teology). Besides the Newton’s Laws of Motion, the studies on the speed of sound and inventing the Reflecting Telescope, his major discovery was Universal Gravitation which suggested that gravity is the force of attraction that exists between every particle with mass in the Universe and that celestial bodies attract each other with their masses and distances.
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) He’s best known for formulating three fundamental laws of celestial mechanics, known as Kepler’s Laws of planetary motion and that served as the basis for Isaac Newton’s Universal Gravitation theory.William Herschel (1738-1822) This astronomer became famous for discovering Uranus and two of its moons (Titania e Oberon). He also discovered two moons of Saturn and the existence of infrared radiation. Apart from his astronomical findings, he was also a great composer!