Capping off Astronomy Week, Saturday, October 9 is celebrated as International Astronomy Day. Celebrated twice annually since 1973, this event aims to bring awareness to Astronomy education and to encourage the passions of amateur and professional astronomers and stargazers alike.
Astronomy, the study of the sun, moon, stars, planets, comets, gas, galaxies, dust and other non-Earthly bodies and phenomena, had its origins as far back as ancient Babylon and Greece. During the first one thousand years of the common era, Islamic astronomers improved upon the theories of Greek mathematician Ptolemy to better track the movement of stars and identify constellations. These improvements led to the Golden Age of European Astronomy in the 1500’s and 1600’s, where scientists such as Copernicus (with his theory of heliocentrism) and Galileo (he developed and used telescopes that led to important discoveries) significantly moved the science of astronomy forward.
Astronomers today continue to advance the science with new discoveries. One of the most recent discoveries was that of Comet NEOWISE in March 2020. NEOWISE was discovered by NASA’s NEOWISE mission and provided an exciting light show for skywatchers on Earth during March and April of 2020 as the icy comet lit up the heavens as it made its way back toward the outer solar system. If you missed it, you’ll need to wait a bit for a second chance – astronomers don’t expect NEOWISE to visit us again for another 6,800 years!
In case a cloudy sky or misplaced telescope prevents you from watching the stars tonight, enjoy our slideshow of the beautiful world above us.
All photos: Alan Dyer / VW Pics / UIG
https://www.space.com/biggest-space-discoveries-stories-2020. Doris Elin Urrutia Dec 30, 2020.
https://www.space.com/16014-astronomy.html. Nola Taylor Redd. Sept 7, 2017.
https://www.librarypoint.org/blogs/post/early-astronomers/. John Gaines and Virginia Johnson.