We explain what astronomy is and what is the history of this science. In addition, its branches of study and its difference with astrology.
What is astronomy?
Astronomy is known as the science dedicated to the study of the celestial bodies that populate the cosmos : stars, planets, satellites, comets, meteorites, galaxies and all interstellar matter, as well as their interactions and movements.
It is an extremely ancient science, given that the sky and its mysteries constituted one of the first unknowns that the human being formulated, giving them in many cases mythological or religious responses. It is also one of the few sciences that currently allows the participation of its fans .
In addition, astronomy has not only existed as an independent science, but has accompanied other areas of knowledge and other disciplines, such as navigation. especially in the absence of maps and compasses- and more recently physics, for whose understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe the observation of the behavior of the cosmos turns out to be of huge and unmatched value.
Thanks to astronomy, humanity has achieved some of its greatest scientific and technical milestones of recent times, such as interspace travel, the positioning of the Earth within the galaxy, or the detailed observation of the atmospheres and surfaces of the planets of the Solar System, when not of systems in many light years of our planet.
See also: Planet
History of astronomy
Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences of the human being, since since ancient times the stars and bodies of the celestial vault have captured their attention and curiosity. Great scholars of this field were ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, Thales of Miletus, Anaxagoras, Aristarchus of Samos or Hipparchus of Nicea, post-Renaissance scientists such as Nicholas Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei and Edmund Halley, or contemporary specialists like Stephen Hawkins.
The ancients thoroughly studied the sky, the Moon and the Sun, so much so that the ancient Greeks already knew about the roundness of the Earth, but assumed that the stars revolved around the planet, and not vice versa. This would remain until the end of the European Middle Ages, when the Scientific Revolution questioned many of the universal foundations that religion held as sacred.
Subsequently, already in the twentieth century, the new advanced technologies available to mankind allowed a greater understanding of light and therefore of telescopic observation technologies, bringing with it new understandings of the universe and the elements that compose it.
Branches of astronomy
Astronomy includes the following branches or subfields:
- Astrophysics Fruit of the application of physics to astronomy, to explain celestial properties and phenomena, formulating laws, measuring magnitudes and expressing results mathematically through formulas.
- Astrogeology Known as exogeology or planetary geology, it is the application of the knowledge obtained during excavations and telluric observations on planet Earth, to other celestial bodies whose composition can be known from afar or, even, as is the case with the moon and mars, through the sending of rock sample collection probes.
- Astronautics From watching the stars, the man began to dream of visiting them. Astronautics is precisely the branch of science that seeks to make that dream possible.
- Celestial mechanics Fruit of the collaboration between classical or Newtonian mechanics and astronomy, this discipline focuses on the movement of celestial bodies, due to the gravitational effects that other bodies of greater mass generate on them.
- Planetology Also called planetary sciences, it focuses on the accumulated knowledge of known planets and for knowing, that is, those that make up our solar system and those that are far from it. This ranges from objects of size from a meteor to gas giants of enormous magnitude.
- Astronomy of X-rays. Together with other astronomical branches specialized in types of light radiation (electromagnetic radiation), this branch is a specialized approach in the measurement of X-rays coming from outer space, and the conclusions that can be drawn from them from the universe.
- Astrometry. It is the branch in charge of measuring the position and astronomical movements, that is, in some way mapping the observable universe. It is perhaps the oldest branch of all.
Difference between astronomy and astrology
The difference between these two disciplines is fundamental. When we talk about astronomy, we refer to a science that logically uses the scientific method to carry out its measurements and checks, which can be refuted and based on analysable experiments and Theories with mathematical sustenance.
Astrology, on the other hand, is an occultist science or self-science, that is, an interpretative doctrine of reality that has no scientific basis, nor responds to other fields of knowledge. provable physicist, but it is held based on its own and exclusive rules of the game. If astronomy is the scientific understanding of the cosmos, astrology is the explanation of terrestrial phenomena through figures arbitrarily drawn in the stars.