Saturday, May 07, 2005


Most of astronomy does not seem to be as practically useful as other areas of knowledge, but it still belongs. I've been drawn to it because of my interests in science fiction.

I have four major divisions of it:

1) Solar System astronomy. This includes studies of the sun, planets, asteroids, comets, and other things that exist and occur in our solar syste

2) Stellar astronomy. This includes studies of stars and star systems, the life cycles of stars, and the Milky Way Galaxy

3) Galactic astronomy. This includes studies of other galaxies and their composition, classification, and history.

4) Cosmology. This includes theoretical analysis and speculations on the structure, origin, and fate of the universe.

This depends heavily on the various areas of physics, to the point that astrophysics is an important combined field. Mechanics, including not only classical mechanics but gravitation, relativity, and quantum mechanics are all used in astronomy. Electromagnetism, thermodynamics, and the structure of matter are also used heavily.
Chemistry does not seem to be used as heavily, but chemical substances, changes, and systems are discussed in various areas. Areas of earth science are also useful, but there do not seem to be many applications of biology.
The application of other areas, such as psychology, and biography, the role of astronomical societies, language, literature, and philosophy, astronomy as a profession, instrumentation, the role of education and religion, national traditions, and the history of astronomy can be followed following the same patterns as for science in general and the other sciences mentioned.

This is an area in which we are collectively less informed than earlier generations. The majority of people today, particularly in the US, live in cities which are lit at night by electricity, which also lights up the sky to the extent that all but the brightest stars are invisible. Venus is regularly taken for a UFO. If I would suggest anything, it would be to go find a rural area on some clear night, and spend a few hours just looking. For those who are more ambitious and would like to find their way around the heavens, there are numerous guides available.

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