Astronomy Facts



  • Astronomy is the study of the night sky – from the planets and moons to the stars and galaxies.
  • Astronomy is the most ancient of all the sciences, dating back tens of thousands of years.
  • The Ancient Egyptians used their knowledge of astronomy to work out their calendar and to align the pyramids.
  • The word astronomy comes from the Greek words astro meaning `star’ and nomia meaning ‘law’.
  • Astronomers use telescopes to study objects far fainter and smaller than can be seen with the naked eye.
  • Space objects give out other kinds of radiation besides light, and astronomers have special equipment to detect this (see radio and space telescopes).
  • Professional astronomers usually study photographs and computer displays instead of staring through telescopes, because most faint space objects only show up on long-exposure photographs.
  • Most astronomers work in observatories far from city lights, where they can get a very clear view of the night sky.
  • Astronomers can spot new objects in the night sky by laying a current photograph over an old one and looking for differences.
  • Professional astronomy involves sophisticated equipment, but amateurs with binoculars can still occasionally make some important discoveries.
  • The great Egyptian pyramids at Giza are said to have been positioned to align with certain stars.