Astronomy

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Number in time and space.

Looking at the Big Picture

 

Astronomy helps any person put things into perspective. It is very easy to get lost in your small little world, comprised of a city or maybe if you’re lucky enough a few cities or towns in between your travels. You probably stay in touch with a small amount of people, or interact on a daily basis with even fewer. However, if you take the time to observe what is happening in outer space and not just in your own little space, things will simply fall into perspective. Through astronomy, we are reminded that we are but a tiny speck in the vast universe that exists around us.

Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences known to man, dating to the first observations made by the earliest civilizations. Astronomy was a way of understanding the world around them, a way to learn how and when to plant crops, when to sow and when to get protection against cold among other things.

It was during the 20th century when people began to do what was called theoretical astronomy, an attempt at finding out more than they could actually see. Since then, people have studied everything they could think of so far about the universe, even if it meant observing and recording the movement of the stars without any complex instruments.

Today, astronomy is also often called astrophysics. By definition, it is a natural science that focuses on the study of celestial bodies, including, but not limiting itself to, planets, asteroids, nebulae, moons, galaxies, comets and black holes. It also studies their chemical, physical and evolutionary processes and how they interact with each other.

At present, the orbits of planets or asteroids have now been calculated; and new discoveries such as black holes and dark matter has led to a new series of investigations led by some of the most powerful countries in the world in an attempt to better understand what is happening around us.

Astronomy is the fourth subject of study in the Quadrivium, the higher division of the liberal arts. Along with arithmetic, music and geometry, it gave students an opportunity to gain a better grasp of the world on a more massive scale. Through rudimentary knowledge and understanding of space and movement, followed by practical application of such knowledge, the bigger picture was hence slowly becoming more and more appreciated.

Students who studied astronomy as part of the Quadrivium learned how to measure the movement of the celestial objects. Being given the chance to understand things on a grander point of view, they would end their training precisely with this subject in order to move on to greater things.

Truly, even the amateur study of celestial bodies can change a person’s life. You don’t need to be a professional astrophysicist to understand certain things. If you take the time off from your smartphones or computers to see Saturn’s rings one night through a backyard telescope, or go star gazing for constellations, it might expand your confined perspective in ways that are beyond all limits, expectations and imagination.