Astronomy - The Science of Space

From the dawn of humanity, humans have gazed at the stars and the heavens. Humans used the Sun and the stars to measure time, navigate the oceans and mark the changing seasons. The ancient Greeks and the Vikings also used the stars as the GPS to find their way. Ancient scientists observed certain heavenly bodies such as planets and galaxies following specific orderly paths and thus, the ancient science of space - ‘astronomy’ took birth.

The word ‘astronomy’ means ‘law of the stars’. The foremost step towards the understanding of astronomy is gazing at the stars; one can do it from anywhere. However, from stars to planets, to the universe and beyond, astronomy is the study of all. Being a part of roots and history, astronomy assures answers to the big questions related to stars, satellites, planets, galaxies etc. It acts as a window into the perplexity and the colossal size of space.

Astronomy is one of the branches of science that interacts directly with society. The developments made in astronomy find various electronic applications such as mobile phones, personal computers, communication satellites etc. It has also contributed to the medical industry, such as, in X-ray and MRI scans.

Astronomers are predominantly accountable for space exploration in order to enlighten humanity about the universe. However, they face a limitation in comparison to other scientists as they cannot work and experiment on the objects or bodies they study.

Being an undefined mystery, astronomy has served as a way to predict the future. It makes us aware of how we fit into the unimaginably giant and exciting universe. A renowned astronomer, Dr Robert Aitken, summarised his conscience on astronomy as, “To give man ever more knowledge of the universe and to help him to learn humility and to know exaltation, that is the mission of astronomy”.

by Shiwani
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