Thursday, May 17, 2018

Selected Questions- Answers From All Experts Astronomy Forum (General Astronomy Information)

Question: i need information on astronomy, anything...what it is, it's history,
etc... thank you. Wolfie, Tacoma Park, Md

Answer:   'Astronomy' is actually quite a vast area to try to explain at one time
because it includes a number of large sub-disciplines:

astrometry - the study of star positions and how these change over time
with celestial coordinates

celestial mechanics - the prediction of the future positions of the
planets, Moon, etc. using orbital elements

 stellar astrophysics - the study of the physics of the stars, and their
evolution, changing properties

 solar physics - the study of the Sun, its physics and properties, as well
as terrestrial effects

radio astronomy - the study of celestial objects using sensitive antennas designed
 to receive signals  in the radio spectrum

galactic dynamics  - the study of the dynamics and physics of the galaxies, galaxy 

clusters, and their origin, evolution, 

cosmology - the study of the large scale structure, origin and evolution of the universe.

Each one of these - particularly the respective history of each sub discipline - 
would probably take several large books to even survey, far less 'explain'. 
What this shows is that like many other scientific disciplines, astronomy has grown
and developed beyond simple description or being one simple science. When
people become astronomers today, in fact, they have to specialize in one
area, say solar physics - they can't just do astronomy. It's too much!

As for the history, or any one part of it, as you can gather from the
above it's far beyond the scope of any practical (and even partially
complete) response here.  Hence, rather than expect a concise set of 
information it is better to go out and get basic books to learn the 
knowledge and master the principles on your own.

Many of the basic books are somewhat dated, but the essential (foundational)
 knowledge  and physical principles remain intact. One of the best is Sir Fred
 Hoyle's 'Frontiers of Astronomy' which  is  available online:

His textbook, 'Astronomy and Cosmology - A Modern Course' is also excellent
and very readable.  Both of these books provide astronomy insights across a wide
spectrum of subjects. 

As for a concise history of astronomy as an overall subject, an excellent book
 to read - which should be available at any public library- is:

'A Short History of Astronomy: From Earliest Times Through the Nineteenth
' by Arthur Berry, Dover Publications, 1961.

If you are serious about garnering more information about astronomy and its
 many facets, the  approach I've outlined here will be a major help - as well as
 the books cited.  You can, of course, also find numerous other good texts on
your own simply by use of appropriate Google inputs.

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