People have looked at the night and gazed into the sky for thousands of years! This is called astronomy.
Astronomy is the branch of science that studies places beyond Earth, like stars, planets, comets and galaxies, also called celestial bodies, additionally studies phenomena that originate outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543) is the father of astronomy, also the father of the heliocentric (Sun-centered) theory of the Solar System, commonly known as the Copernican system. The first Islamic astronomer reported as having built an astrolabe is Muhammad al-Fazari (late 8th century).
Around 400 years ago, a special tool used to look at very distant things was invented. This instrument is called a telescope.
Galelio Galeilei, an Italian astronomer, built a simple telescope in 1609 and proved the theory of Copernicus “The Sun was the centre of the planets” that was suggested in 1543.
The most famous telescope in space is the Hubble Space telescope (HST), which is about the size of a school bus and rotates 600 km above the earth.
Other examples of telescopes floating in space are Gamma-Ray Burst Polarimeter (GAP) by JAXA, Chandra X-ray Observatory by NASA, Hubble by ESA and NASA, Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) by NASA and Astrosat by ISRO.
A place used to look into space, types include:
- Optical observatories: Those have a dome, usually in a high location with a telescope
- Radio observatories: Have big dishes that receives radio waves from space and converts them into a picture
- Space-based observatories: Telescopes floating in space
Did you know? The world’s major observatories are on top of inactive volcanoes or high mountains because this is where the sky is clearest !
A constellation is a family of stars that live close to each other. When you connect them as if they were dots on a coloring book, they can look like animals, people or other things.
- There are 88 constellations established by the International Astronomical Union (www.iau.org), 42 are names after animals.
- Ancient Greek astronomers named them, the largest is Hydra and smallest is Crux.
Let us try to look for constellations in the sky?
What you will need?
Compass, torch, binoculars, star maps (planisohere), warm clothes, clear sky, notepad and pencil.
If you are in the Northern part of the hemisphere, you will be able to spot out the following constellations:
- Ursa Major (representing The Great Bear, The great dipper)
- Camelopardalis (representing a giraffe)
- Cepheus (representing a mythical Greek King)
If you are in the Southern part of the hemisphere, you will be able to spot out the following constellations:
- Phoenix (representing a mythical firebird)
- Pavo (representing a peacock)
- Centaurus (representing a mythical Greek half man half horse)
What I can See in Bahrain?
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are the five brightest planets in our night sky and, therefore, observable by most people. After the moon, Venus is the brightest object in our night sky. Venus orbits relatively close to the sun and is known as either a morning or evening ‘star’ because it either rises in the morning before the sun or sets after it in the evening.