All About Astronomy

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An ilustration of the Christmas star sightings

An ilustration of the Christmas star sightings

‘This is the season… And every year around this time people notice the brilliant ‘star’ to the west just after sunset. For astronomers, we know it’s the appearance of the planet Venus, but noticing it for the average person brings on questions about the holidays. Was the Christmas Star real?

Regardless of your faith, the story of the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ is one of the most powerful and enigmatic symbols of Christianity. For centuries, scientists, scholars and historians have debated about the nature of this biblical light that heralded an event. Was it purely a divine sign, created miraculously to mark a special birth? Or was it an astronomical event in its own right?

David Reneke, news editor of Australia’s Sky and Space Magazine, believes astronomers may have found the answer – or at least something that fits all the known facts – basing his research on the highly esteemed gospel according to Matthew, the first of the four gospels in the New Testament. It would appear to be the first written and this version places key players together in the same time period. “It’s generally accepted by most researchers that Christ was born between 3 BC and 1 AD.” says Dave. With the aid of modern astronomy software programs astronomers can reproduce the night sky exactly as it was, thousands of years ago. Humans are curious and so was Dave, so he turned back the hands of time and the stars to the time of that long ago Christmas…

“We found out something startling.” said Reneke, “It looks like the ‘Christmas star’ really did exist,”

Two thousand years ago, astronomy and astrology were considered one and the same. The motions of the heavenly bodies were used to determine the events of history, and the fate of people’s lives. Of the various groups of priests and prophets of this period, those which commanded the most respect were the Magi – whose origins are not entirely clear. Known as ‘wise men’ , we can only assume they were actually priests who relied on their knowledge of astronomy/astrology.

Armed with an approximate date, Dave assumed the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ was not just a localized event and could be observed by sky-watchers elsewhere in the world, not just by the Magi. Historical records and modern-day computer simulations indicate a rare series of planetary groupings, also known as conjunctions, during the years 3 BC and 2 BC In fact, this was one of the most remarkable periods in terms of celestial events in the last 3,000 years!

“Like the final pieces of a difficult jig-saw puzzle, our fabled biblical beacon is starting to reveal itself,” David said. “On 12 August, 3 BC, Jupiter and Venus appeared very close together just before sunrise, appearing as bright morning ‘stars.’ It would have been visible in the eastern dawn sky of the Middle East from about 3:45 to 5:20 a.m.”

But it didn’t stop there. The crowning touch came ten months later, on 17 June 2 BC, as Venus and Jupiter joined up again in the constellation Leo. This time the two planets were so close that, without the use of our modern optical aids, they would have looked like one single, brilliant star. According to Dave’s research, Jupiter was known as the “planet of Kings” and Saturn as the “Protector of the Jews”. This could easily have been interpreted as a sign that the Jewish Messiah had been, or was about to be, born. Also, Leo was thought to denote royalty and power. An interpretation? Perhaps. But, do not forget the times in which this occurred. Astronomy and astrology intermingled. This whole sequence of events could have been enough for at least three astrologers to see this as sign in the heavens and make their way Jerusalem.

“Now, this doesn’t mean that astrology works,” Reneke said. “We haven’t ruled out other possibilities for the Star of Bethlehem but it does make our search more rewarding to find a truly interesting astronomical event that happened during the most likely time for the Nativity.”

Whatever the Star of Bethlehem was, it has had more impact on humankind than any star before or since. It is also possible that the mystery of the Star will never be completely solved. For many of us though, it is the mystery itself that drives us to find the solution.

Source : David Reneke

David Reneke, one of Australia’s most well known and respected amateur astronomers and lecturers, has over 40 years experience in astronomy with links to some of the world’s leading astronomical institutions. David is also the News Editor for Australia’s Sky and Space Magazine, he teaches astronomy at college level, is an invited speaker at astronomy conventions throughout Australia, a feature writer for major Australian newspapers, and is a science correspondent for ABC and commercial radio stations. In these weekly radio interviews David regularly appears on about 60 networked stations around the nation with all the latest news and on general astronomy and space discovery issues.

Cited from : universe today

Even though, most people claim that they know what astronomy is but in fact, most of them misunderstand about astronomy. Astronomy and Astrology are NOT THE SAME. While astrology is just a mystical pseudo-science that believes that the heavens can directly affects or influence our daily lives, astronomy is a scientific study of star and universe.

Astronomy is the study of all celestial objects. It is the study of almost every property of the Universe from stars, planets and comets to the largest cosmological structures and phenomena; across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and more. From the effects of the smallest atoms to the appearance of the Universe on the largest scales.

The only thing we can do to learn the space objects is to observe them. Gathering their light as much as possible and then we analyze the light. We applied known physics law to explain the behavior of the body that emits that light. We can’t do experiment in astronomy, like what we do in physics or chemistry. We can’t increase the stars’ internal pressure to see what will happen. We only can observe the radiation from the object and analyze it, and then we try our best to explain what happen or how it behaves. This uniqueness clearly differ astronomy from any other science.

Astronomy is the oldest of the natural sciences, dating back to antiquity, with its origins in the religious, mythological, and astrological practices of the ancient Early astronomy involved observing the regular patterns of the motions of visible celestial objects, especially the Sun, Moon, stars and naked eye observations of the planets. The changing position of the Sun along the horizon or the changing appearances of stars in the course of the year was used to establish agricultural or ritual calendars.

Astronomy consists of a series of disciplines including:

  1. Solar astronomy: Studies of our own star, the Sun
  2. Planetary science: Studies of the bodies in our own Solar System and those in orbit around other stars
  3. Stellar astronomy: The study of stars and stellar evolution
  4. Galactic astronomy: The study of our own Milky Way and its evolution
  5. Extragalactic astronomy: The study of objects outside of our Milky Way
  6. Cosmology: The study of the Universe as a whole.

June 2017
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