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Astronomy Definition

Astronomy studies celestial objects, space, and the universe. For example, astronomers use telescopes to discover new planets.

View Lesson on Solar & Lunar Eclipses
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Solar & Lunar Eclipses

Fun Facts

  • Historically, astronomy focused on observations of heavenly bodies as ancient civilizations studied the night sky.
  • Planetary astronomers focus on growth, evolution, and death of planets.
  • Solar astronomers spend their time analyzing a single star or sun.

Why Do We Need To Know About Astronomy

Studying astronomy helps us learn about the universe and the importance of exploring it to find new planets. Astronomers, who are scientists focusing on space, use what they know about when the moon or sun is blocked (eclipses) to find planets beyond our solar system. This shows how astronomy can help us learn more about space.

This area of science has found more than 2000 planets, some of which are similar to Earth and might be able to support life. The Kepler Space Telescope is one tool that has helped a lot in finding these planets, showing that studying space is key to understanding our universe and where we fit in.

Frequently Asked Questions

If the Sun is so much larger in size than the Moon, why do they appear to be the same size?
The Moon is about 400 times smaller than the Sun and about 400 times closer to Earth. Those proportions cause the Sun and the Moon to look about the same size.
Why was it important that Dr. Jeff use a large ball to represent the Sun, a marble to represent Earth, and a bead to represent the Moon in his model?
Although all models have limitations, Dr. Jeff was trying to accurately represent the size of each object in the Earth-Sun-Moon system relative to one another.
How would the Earth-Sun-Moon system change if the Moon’s orbital plane weren’t tilted 5°?
We would have an increase in the number eclipses we can see because of the orbit of the Moon around Earth.
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