It’s fair to say that astronomy is the oldest of all natural sciences. It appeared long before physics, chemistry and physical cosmology that are now a part of it. It dates back to the most ancient civilizations that monitored closely and recorded changes in the sky at night, which were caused by the movements of planets and stars. Among those civilizations, whose records survived long enough for scientists to find, are Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, Mayas, Indians and many more. Astronomy studies celestial bodies, such as planets, stars, galaxies, moons, comets and others, their position in relation to Earth, as well as their evolution from physical and chemical point of view. During the course of last century, astronomy in all its vastness has been divided in two main branches: theoretical and observational. The first branch is focused on the creation of models that help to describe astronomical phenomenon.
Electromagnetic radiation otherwise known as visible light is the main source of information in astronomy. Therefore, in order to study and observe the celestial objects from using the entire extend of modern technology, it is divided into radio astronomy that studies wavelength greater than 1 mm, infrared astronomy that studies the infrared radiation, emitted by celestial objects, optical astronomy, which is the oldest type of the observational astronomy, ultraviolet astronomy that studies ultraviolet wavelengths and X-ray and Gamma-ray astronomy that focus on X-ray wavelengths and shortest wavelengths, correspondingly.
Theoretical astronomy in focused on building analytical models of celestial objects’ behavior using computational numerical simulations. It’s a continuous process as every piece of new confirmed data, obtained via observational astronomy or any other scientific research, must be taken into account. Thus, every created model and its predicted behavior is modified in compliance with new data. Theoretical astronomers study mainly large-scale phenomena, such as galaxy formation, stellar dynamics and so on.
Surprisingly, astronomy is one of the few sciences to which amateurs can still greatly contribute. Due to the sheer extent of people, interested in celestial objects and their observation as well as because of the commercial availability of advance observational equipment, amateur astronomers can actually record and submit their observations of various celestial objects and phenomena. Most of amateur astronomers work with visible light, however there still are those, who dabble in observation of wavelength that are outside the visible spectrum. They conduct their observations using radio telescopes or infrared filters on common telescopes.
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