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The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0 DVD from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is in our online store, filled with Earth and space science resources.
Image: "Observation of the Sky." Colored engraving published in 1647 in the book entitled "Selenografia sive Lunae Descriptio" by Johannes Hevelius.
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Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris, France.

Understanding the Sky

People have been wondering about what they see in the sky for a long time. We interpret what we see in a cultural context through mythology and in the context of science through the laws of the physical universe. The desire to explain what we see around us in the simplest way has driven astronomers for centuries.

By carefully watching the sky, astronomers learn about how the universe works. By studying eclipses and the motions of the planets, astronomers eventually realized that gravity controls the way things move, and that gravity was responsible for the motion of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars in our sky as well. We now know that the Earth's motion is responsible for seasons.

Ever more powerful telescopes allow us to "see" further away and thus farther into the history of our Universe. With them, we can study stars and galaxies, as well as many of the more mysterious objects in our Universe. Someday, we may even be able to predict the ultimate fate of the Universe.

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The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF