Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.

Introduction to Astronomy

How to get started as an astronomer

By , 8th November 2010 in Astronomy

Astronomy is an endlessly fascinating field, the oldest of the natural sciences, and one of the few areas of science that amateurs can assist the professionals and contribute to science.
 

This tutorial series covers the basics of modern astronomy as a science, including the structure and evolution of planets, stars, galaxies, and the Universe as a whole. We will look at observational astronomy, the magnitude scale, spectroscopy and celestial mechanics.

What is Astronomy?

Astronomy as a science began tens of thousands of years ago by tracking the motion of the Sun, Moon, planets, and stars. It has since developed into a sophisticated study of the fundamental laws of nature governing these phenomena.

The first observations of the heavens were conducted by our early human ancestors. Historical records of astronomical measurements date back as far as Mesopotamia nearly 5000 years ago, with later observations made by the ancient Chinese, Babylonians, and Greeks.

Astronomy is more than simply a mapping of stars and planets into outlines of gods and magical creatures. It is the scientific study of the contents of entire Universe, stars, planets, comets, asteroids, galaxies, and space and time, as well as its history.

If you're starting out by looking at the sky at night, I have an excellent observational astronomy tutorial series that takes you through what you can see at night as well as some equipment advice. This tutorial series covers mainly theory about how the universe works.

Artists concept of the Milky Way galaxy
Image Credit: Nick Risinger
Artists concept of the Milky Way galaxy
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