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Astronomy is the study of everything in the universe beyond Earth’s atmosphere. That includes objects we can see with our naked eyes, like the Sun, the Moon, the planets, and the stars. It also includes objects we can only see with telescopes or other instruments, like faraway galaxies and tiny particles. And it even includes questions about things we can't see at all, like dark matter and dark energy. Astronomy, science that encompasses the study of all extra-terrestrial objects and phenomena. Until the invention of the telescope and the discovery of the laws of motion and gravity in the 17th century, astronomy was primarily concerned with noting and predicting the positions of the Sun, Moon, and planets, originally for calendrical and astrological purposes and later for navigational uses and scientific interest. The catalogue of objects now studied is much broader and includes, in order of increasing distance, the solar system, the stars that make up the Milky Way Galaxy, and other, more distant galaxies. With the advent of scientific space probes, Earth also has come to be studied as one of the planets, though its more-detailed investigation remains the domain of the Earth sciences.
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Since the late 19th century, astronomy has expanded to include astrophysics, the application of physical and chemical knowledge to an understanding of the nature of celestial objects and the physical processes that control their formation, evolution, and emission of radiation. In addition, the gases and dust particles around and between the stars have become the subjects of much research. Study of the nuclear reactions that provide the energy radiated by stars has shown how the diversity of atoms found in nature can be derived from a universe that, following the first few minutes of its existence, consisted only of hydrogen, helium, and a trace of lithium. Concerned with phenomena on the largest scale is cosmology, the study of the evolution of the universe. Astrophysics has transformed cosmology from a purely speculative activity to a modern science capable of predictions that can be tested.
Its great advances notwithstanding, astronomy is still subject to a major constraint: it is inherently an observational rather than an experimental science. Almost all measurements must be performed at great distances from the objects of interest, with no control over such quantities as their temperature, pressure, or chemical composition. There are a few exceptions to this limitation—namely, meteorites (most of which are from the asteroid belt, though some are from the Moon or Mars), rock and soil samples brought back from the Moon, samples of comet and asteroid dust returned by robotic spacecraft, and interplanetary dust particles collected in or above the stratosphere. These can be examined with laboratory techniques to provide information that cannot be obtained in any other way. In the future, space missions may return surface materials from Mars, or other objects, but much of astronomy appears otherwise confined to Earth-based observations augmented by observations from orbiting satellites and long-range space probes and supplemented by theory.
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Throughout history humans have gazed at the sky for timekeeping, to navigate the vast oceans, and to decide when to plant crops. The desire to know more drove humans to study space and celestial objects in detail. Thus, the natural science Astronomy born. There are a vast number of celestial objects that astronomers’ study, that it is convenient to break astronomy up into different branches. Enlisted below are some of the popular branches of astronomy.
Planetary astronomy is the study of planets and planetary bodies, including moons, comets, and asteroids. Astronomers in this field study planetary & exoplanetary atmospheres, surfaces, and exteriors of planets and the distribution of planets around other stars. They also investigate the cosmological prerequisites required to form new planetary bodies and the possibility of life in them.
This branch of astronomy focuses specifically on the yellow star Sol, often called the Sun. Solar astronomers study the systems and characteristics of the Sun, such as its atmosphere, magnetohydrodynamics, solar winds, radiation, and more. They may also research how the sun affects us here on Earth.
Stellar astronomy is the study of the Sun and the stars. Stellar astronomers investigate how the stars are born, what constituents they have, how they evolve over their long lifespans, and what happens when they die.
Planet Earth is inside Milky Way, a galaxy spinning around a massive black hole. Astronomers who study galactic astronomy, or galactic cosmology, focus on the chemical and stellar evolution, star formation, and motion of the Milky Way.
This branch of astronomy deals with observing celestial objects with astronomical apparatuses. Observational astronomers use complex computer models to analyse the observation results to better understand the physical processes responsible for the appearance of supernovas, exoplanets, and variable stars.
The Astronomy Department at the University of Virginia is a world leader in innovative and cutting-edge science. With over 15 full time faculty, ours is one of the largest departments in the Southeast. Students can take advantage of all the courses our department offers through one of two majors:
Our undergraduates have the opportunity to work closely with the faculty. The ability to do research as part of their degree gives our students the chance to take part in the process of discovery, first hand. An Astronomy major gains skills in a wide range of fields including physics, math, computer science, critical thinking, and problem solving. For this reason, astronomy and physics majors are prepared for many careers, both inside and outside the physical sciences. Astronomy students often go on to graduate school or find a Astronomy Homework Writing Help related to astronomy, but astronomy majors are qualified for a wide range of positions related to engineering, mathematics, computer science, and environmental science. Many students also go on to study law or medicine or enter the world of business or education.
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