Aim for the stars


Dear Students (and Learning Partners)

You can click on  DPS Astronomy Club to join and follow their blog. You will then get regular news about new astronomical facts. 

Here is a small introduction for those who are new to astronomy. Do you ever watch the night sky? Have you wondered what distant mysteries lie hidden in the little points of light shining up there?

Astronomers are scientists who study the sky or outer space. They have discovered many interesting facts that your DPS Astronomy Club posts every day.

In this post, let us read about the basic building blocks of astronomy:

First, let us find out who the famous astronomers are, ancient and modern, male and female:

 

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Click on Famous Astronomers and on Famous Women Astronomers to know more .

Then, to study the sky, you will need a telescope. The word comes from the Greek  tele “far” and skopein “to look or see”. So, telescope means “far-seeing”. This instrument helps you to see distant objects. Galileo invented the first telescope.

A telescope basically has lens and mirror, but may also be complex computers that can locate, identify and photograph objects, and perform other complex actions, like the NuSTAR telescope of NASA. NuSTAR, short for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array can study black holes and how exploding stars form the elements that make up our universe.

NASA NuSTAR telescope

NASA NuSTAR telescope

Click on NASA to know more about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration located in Washington, DC, in the U.S.A. You can Follow them on Twitter to get latest updates.

Telescopes are usually located in an Observatory. An observatory is a building where scientists study natural events on earth and also events and objects in outer space. Observatories are usually situated on mountain tops, deserts or other remote areas suitable for observation. There were observatories in ancient times, like the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur, India, built by Sawai Jai Singh or the Observatory in Samarkand, built by the Timurid ruler Ulugh Beg.

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There can also be observatories in outer space, like the Hubble Space Observatory:

Hubble Space Observatory

Hubble Space Observatory

What did astronomers, ancient and modern, study in the sky? Here are a few objects of their study.

Star: A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by its own gravity. Our Sun is a star. Aldebaran (Arabic for ‘Follower’) or Alpha Tauri is an orange giant star located about 65 light years away in the zodiac constellation of Taurus. See how huge it is, compared to our sun!

Aldebaran-Sun size comparison

Aldebaran-Sun size comparison

Light Year: A unit of measuring distance in space. It is the distance travelled through vacuum by light in one year. Light travels at the speed of 299,792,458 metres per second. One light year = 10 trillion kilometres!

Constellation: A constellation is a group of stars that are arranged in an imaginary pattern. The twelve constellations of the Zodiac are familiar to most of you. Here is Leo, the lion. Can you see how the astronomer’s imagination works?

Galaxy: A galaxy is a massive system made up of stars, solar systems, gas, dust and dark matter. Here is a picture of the Milky Way Galaxy which contains earth and our solar system.

 

The Milky Way Galaxy

The Milky Way Galaxy

Nebula: A nebula is a vast cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other gases, often measuring hundreds of light years in diameter. Stars are born in these gas cods called nebulae. Here is the Eagle Nubula:

Eagle Nebula

Eagle Nebula

Supernova: When a star explodes and dies, it emits enormous amounts of energy and is called a supernova.

Kepler's Supernova

Kepler’s Supernova

Planet: A planet, meaning “wandering star” is an astronomical object orbiting (circling) a star. Our earth is a planet. Here are two famous photographs of Mother Earth taken from space by astronauts:

 

Satellite: A natural satellite is a celestial object, like our moon that orbits another body, like a planet. Artificial satellites are made by scientists and move in the same way, to study the object, take photographs, help in communications and weather forecasts, etc.  The planet Jupiter has sixty-seven moons! Can you imagine what the sky looks like from Jupiter?

Rocket: A rocket is a spacecraft that helps to launch a satellite into space.

Rocket launch

Rocket launch

Astronaut: An astronaut is a a person specially trained for a space flight. Here are three famous Indian astronauts.

At this point, I hope you want to become an astronauts or astronomer. Astronomy is a fascinating branch of study with many, many specialisations.

All the best, and happy star-gazing!

Principal

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