Image: "Observation of the Sky." Colored engraving published in 1647 in the book
entitled "Selenografia sive Lunae Descriptio" by Johannes Hevelius.
Click on image for full size
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.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
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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