The Astronomy Portal
Astronomy (from Greek: ἀστρονομία) is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets. Relevant phenomena include supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, astronomy studies everything that originates outside Earth's atmosphere. Cosmology is a branch of astronomy. It studies the Universe as a whole.
Astronomy is one of the oldest natural sciences. The early civilizations in recorded history made methodical observations of the night sky. These include the Babylonians, Greeks, Indians, Egyptians, Nubians, Iranians, Chinese, Maya, and many ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas. In the past, astronomy included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, and the making of calendars. Nowadays, professional astronomy is often said to be the same as astrophysics.
Professional astronomy is split into observational and theoretical branches. Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring data from observations of astronomical objects. This data is then analyzed using basic principles of physics. Theoretical astronomy is oriented toward the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. These two fields complement each other. Theoretical astronomy seeks to explain observational results and observations are used to confirm theoretical results.
Amateurs play an active role in astronomy. It is one of the few sciences in which this is the case. This is especially true for the discovery and observation of transient events. Amateur astronomers have helped with many important discoveries, such as finding new comets.
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Io (Jupiter I) is the innermost and third-largest of the four Galilean moons of the planet Jupiter. It is the fourth-largest moon in the solar system, has the highest density of all of them, and has the lowest amount of water (by atomic ratio) of any known astronomical object in the Solar System. It was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei and was named after the mythological character Io, a priestess of Hera who became one of Zeus' lovers.
With over 400 active volcanoes, Io is the most geologically active object in the Solar System. This extreme geologic activity is the result of tidal heating from friction generated within Io's interior as it is pulled between Jupiter and the other Galilean satellites—Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Several volcanoes produce plumes of sulfur and sulfur dioxide that climb as high as 500 km (300 mi) above the surface. Io's surface is also dotted with more than 100 mountains that have been uplifted by extensive compression at the base of Io's silicate crust. Some of these peaks are taller than Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth's surface. Unlike most satellites in the outer Solar System, which are mostly composed of water ice, Io is primarily composed of silicate rock surrounding a molten iron or iron-sulfide core. Most of Io's surface is composed of extensive plains coated with sulfur and sulfur-dioxide frost. Read more...
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IC 405, also Sharpless 229 (Sh2-229), Caldwell 31 and The Flaming Star Nebula, is an emission/reflection nebula and a Caldwell object in the constellation Auriga, surrounding the bluish star AE Aurigae. It shines at magnitude +6.0. The nebula is about 5 light-years across. This is a white light image of the Flaming Star Nebula showing the "smoke" of reflection nebula.
- 14 December 1962 - Mariner 2 becomes the first space probe to perform a flyby of a planet, when it passes within 35,000 kilometers of Venus
- 19 December 2013 - Gaia was launched. Its mission is to study billions of stars in the Milky Way
- 21 December 1968 - Apollo 8, the first crewed spacecraft to leave Earth orbit, reach the Moon, orbit it, and return safely to Earth, is launched
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All times UT unless otherwise specified.
|5 December, 04:07
||Moon at apogee
|12 December, 05:12
|14 December, 16:00
|18 December, 20:27
||Moon at perigee
|22 December, 04:19
||Earth southern solstice
|26 December, 05:18
||New moon and annular solar eclipse
|26 December, 07:30
||Moon occults Jupiter
|27 December, 14:31
||Moon occults Pluto
|27 December, 18:25
||Jupiter at conjunction, occultation
|29 December, 01:31
||Moon occults Venus
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