Portal:Astronomy

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The Astronomy Portal

Introduction

A man sitting on a chair mounted to a moving platform, staring through a large telescope.

Astronomy (from Greek: ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets. Relevant phenomena include supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, astronomy studies everything that originates outside Earth's atmosphere. Cosmology is a branch of astronomy that studies the universe as a whole.

Astronomy is one of the oldest natural sciences. The early civilizations in recorded history made methodical observations of the night sky. These include the Babylonians, Greeks, Indians, Egyptians, Chinese, Maya, and many ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas. In the past, astronomy included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, and the making of calendars. Nowadays, professional astronomy is often said to be the same as astrophysics.

Professional astronomy is split into observational and theoretical branches. Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring data from observations of astronomical objects. This data is then analyzed using basic principles of physics. Theoretical astronomy is oriented toward the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. These two fields complement each other. Theoretical astronomy seeks to explain observational results and observations are used to confirm theoretical results.

Astronomy is one of the few sciences in which amateurs play an active role. This is especially true for the discovery and observation of transient events. Amateur astronomers have helped with many important discoveries, such as finding new comets. (Full article...)

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Eris, the largest known scattered-disc object (center), and its moon Dysnomia (left of object)

The scattered disc (or scattered disk) is a distant circumstellar disc in the Solar System that is sparsely populated by icy small solar system bodies, which are a subset of the broader family of trans-Neptunian objects. The scattered-disc objects (SDOs) have orbital eccentricities ranging as high as 0.8, inclinations as high as 40°, and perihelia greater than 30 astronomical units (4.5×109 km; 2.8×109 mi). These extreme orbits are thought to be the result of gravitational "scattering" by the gas giants, and the objects continue to be subject to perturbation by the planet Neptune.

Although the closest scattered-disc objects approach the Sun at about 30–35 AU, their orbits can extend well beyond 100 AU. This makes scattered objects among the coldest and most distant objects in the Solar System. The innermost portion of the scattered disc overlaps with a torus-shaped region of orbiting objects traditionally called the Kuiper belt, but its outer limits reach much farther away from the Sun and farther above and below the ecliptic than the Kuiper belt proper. (Full article...)

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Flaming Star Nebula
Credit: User:Hewholooks

IC 405, also Sharpless 229 (Sh2-229), Caldwell 31 and The Flaming Star Nebula, is an emission/reflection nebula and a Caldwell object in the constellation Auriga, surrounding the bluish star AE Aurigae. It shines at magnitude +6.0. The nebula is about 5 light-years across. This is a white light image of the Flaming Star Nebula showing the "smoke" of reflection nebula.

Astronomy News

26 May 2021 – May 2021 lunar eclipse
A total lunar eclipse occurs, the second-shortest of the 21st century, with totality lasting for only 14 minutes. Nicknamed the Super Flower Blood Moon, the eclipse was visible over the Pacific Ocean and Oceania, with South and East Asia seeing the eclipse at moonrise, and the Americas seeing the eclipse at moonset. (Space.com)
17 February 2021 – Discoveries of exoplanets
Astronomers announce the discovery of HD 110082 b, a sub-Neptune exoplanet that is three times larger than Earth and which orbits a relatively young star. (Phys.org)

June anniversaries

Space-related Portals

Astronomical events

All times UT unless otherwise specified.

8 June, 02:27 Moon at apogee
10 June, 10:42 New moon and annular solar eclipse
11 June, 01:06 Mercury at inferior conjunction
21 June, 03:32 Earth northern solstice
23 June, 09:58 Moon at perigee
24 June, 18:40 Full moon

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