Exploring the stars through astronomy

Every moment of every day, we are surrounded by greatness. The evidence of this can be seen by simply looking up towards the heavens above. The vastness of the sky is very deceiving, since scientists have said based on their research that the size of the universe is unimaginable.

However, for centuries, people have been enthralled by the stars, especially at nighttime when they are most visible. Groups of stars which form a particular shape, known as constellations, have been given names, such as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. Scientists have often said that there are billions of stars in our galaxy alone, which is just one of the many galaxies in the universe.

A star is a huge, big ball of plasma that shines brightly. We all know what the sun is, but do we actually know that it is a star? The sun, as we know, is very powerful and is the Earth’s source of energy. That alone gives us an idea as to how powerful a star can be, whether it is in terms of heat or of light. Yet in spite of all this knowledge, stars can still be wonderful to look at, even from our vantage point of millions of miles of distance.

Some people flock to public observatories or astronomy stations in order to view stars for a small fee. Even if they seem to be unmoving, some people just can't get enough satisfaction merely looking at them through powerful telescopes. Astronomers have studied and are continuing to study the stars in order to find out more information about them, since it is somewhat difficult to get quality information from objects of great distances, although it is possible.

However, you don’t necessarily need powerful telescopes in order to enjoy the stars, although it would help by making them look bigger than when viewed with the naked eye. Stargazing is a very popular activity and is sometimes required by astronomy professors. By exploring the stars, whether at home or while lying down on a grassy bank, there are shapes and images that can form while stargazing.

Astronomers explore the stars in order to learn about them, for that is their job and means of livelihood. This research that astronomers conduct thoroughly and systematically regarding stars are actually very helpful as pieces of knowledge for the common man.

Without them, we will have a very limited knowledge regarding stars and perhaps other heavenly bodies. But certainly, stars are also in the heavens above for the common person to enjoy.

Exploring the stars via stargazing or even with a home astronomy kit at home (usually composed of a less powerful telescope than that at an observatory) can help you enjoy them and think about them, without the need for deeper knowledge that astronomers seek.

In other words, enjoy stargazing and exploring the visible stars and be relaxed while doing so. It is wonderful to view them, especially from different angles and times, of which some groups of stars can come together to form a constellation.

You can actually point out a group or groups and name your own constellations in order to make your star exploration at home more enjoyable. You know the regular constellations, namely, the Big Dipper, Orion, Leo, etc. Perhaps your imagination can be vivid and you would notice a certain group of stars that form a recognizable shape and name them.

You can even invite friends, classmates, family members, and more to make stargazing an even more enjoyable activity.

The reason why exploration of stars and other heavenly bodies enthralls humans is because of the mystery of outer space. Up until the present, scientists and astronomers have been debating about a number of issues, such as whether life exists on Mars, how the universe came into existence, whether life can survive on other planets, etc.

Along with this, the typical human is intrigued by the idea of stars and how they shine brightly at night. It is also this interest and intrigue that has led people into telling fortunes based on the position of the stars (astrologers).

Exploration of the stars can be done at home. For the typical person, it is more enjoyable to do it at home without thinking too much about them. Enjoy them, for they are mysterious, but wonderful objects.

About Our Planets

The Rocks Nearest the Sun: When we glimpse the millions of stars in the night sky, it can be difficult to imagine that some of them are planets, only thousands of miles away, and within our solar system. However, with the proper tools, and with knowledge of the planets, you can see swift Mercury, mysterious Venus, and even the giant Jupiter from your backyard. In this first of two series on the planets of our solar system, you will learn about the planets lying between the asteroid belt and the sun.

You will also learn about their special properties, and how you can distinguish them in the often star-crowded night sky. For your home astronomy activity, all you'll need are the following.• A good pair of binoculars, preferably with very high resolution, is valuable when you want to view the planets in greater detail.

You won't need a telescope if you want to see the nearest planets, although a good home telescope will show even more detail and make your observation more interesting. 

Star maps are invaluable when you locate the planets, as their positions are often described in reference to nearby constellations. You can best view the planets in a dark place, so you need a dim flashlight to light up your star maps.

Before you begin your planet hunt, there are three things you must know about our planets. According to a definition set by international astronomical organizations, a planet must be a body orbiting around the sun, and with enough mass to be a sphere due to its own gravitational forces.

A planet, moreover, should clear the neighborhood around its orbit. There are other bodies within the solar system that are as large as planets, or were once considered planets, but have since been disqualified as they didn't meet one or more of the qualifications.

They won't be discussed in detail in this article. Mercury is the planet nearest the sun, and completes its revolution every eighty-eight days. Mercury has no moons, and is a very light, tiny planet. In fact, Mercury is only about 0.055 of earth in mass.

Most of Mercury's thin atmosphere is made up of potassium and sodium, and its rocky surface is full of craters. The Romans were one of the first to report on the planet, which they named after their swift messenger of the gods, as the astronomers observed its fast motion in the sky. Despite Mercury's brightness, you can see it at twilight as a bright, star-like dot that doesn't twinkle. After Mercury comes Venus, a hazy planet long the subject of fiction and mystery.

Like Mercury, Venus has no moons. It is almost the same mass and size as the earth, so that the two are often referred to as "sister planets." The atmosphere of Venus, however, is about ninety-five percent carbon dioxide, and can thus support no life.

Venus is the brightest heavenly body in the night sky, with the exception of our moon. It is at its brightest a few hours before sunrise, and a few hours after sunset, and is thus often called the morning star or the evening star.

The Earth you now stand on is the third planet from the sun, and is the only one in our solar system known to support life. Earth has one satellite, our moon, which affects the tides of our oceans, and which, over time, has changed our planet's rotation period.

Earth's atmosphere is about seventy eight percent nitrogen and twenty percent oxygen, a mixture stabilized millions of years ago, after the young, volcanic earth settled down and gave birth to life. 

After Earth comes the red, rocky Mars, with its two moons, Phobos and Deimos. Like Venus, the Martian atmosphere is primarily made up of carbon dioxide; unlike hazy Venus, however, Mars appears as a bright red dot in the sky.

At certain times of the year, Mars is the second brightest object in the night sky, next to the moon and Venus. Mars is red because of the iron oxide, or rust, on its surface, and recent studies have shown that it might have been home to water only a few thousand years ago.

The idea that Mars may have once supported life is interesting to scientists, and Mars is promptly the planet in the solar system with the greatest number of orbiting spacecraft.  Beyond Mars is a thick asteroid belt, which is also home to the dwarf planet Ceres.

Once classified as an asteroid, Ceres is the smallest dwarf planet of our solar system, and comprises a third of the asteroid belt's total mass. In very good atmospheric conditions, you can see Ceres with your naked eye. It will appear as a tiny white dot in the night sky.

Tracking the planets in your backyard can be a fun activity for the whole family. Just remember that planets, unlike stars, don't twinkle, and will usually be very bright. Just keep those binoculars and star maps handy, and you can have an enjoyable night of star gazing and planet locating.

For the more interesting planets, however, you will have to go beyond the asteroid belt, where the massive planets reside. These planets will be tackled in the next essay in this series.

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Astronomy Articles and discussion
Watches on Space Missions
Astronomy Articles and discussion
Black holes discussed
All about our sun
An exploration of our solar system
An exploration of the stars
Recognising constellations
Is Pluto a planet
Beginning with the moon
Comets and meteors
Astronomy as a hobby
Astronomy with binoculars
Astronomy books and guides
Join an astronomy club
The work of a Lawyer on a Space Project
Gazing At The Stars
Telescopes, Types and Brands
What is a telescope
Who invented the telescope
Working of telescopes
How to make a telescope
Telescopes and light
Diagrams of reflecting telescopes
Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble telescope continued
Radio Telescopes
Radio telescopes continued
Refracting telescopes
Telescope Reviews
Types of telescopes
Telescopes for sale
Bushnell Telescopes
Orion Telescopes
Meade Telescopes
Celestron telescopes
Telescope Kits
Protecting the health of astronauts
Wall Insulation on space shuttles
Beds and pillows in a zero gravity environment
Diver Assisted Pool Training
Munich Based Aerospace
Saving to finance a space mission
NASA Ground Control Furniture
Wellness for Astronomers
Hotel Berlin for Astronomers
Preparing for a Space Mission in the Seychelles
Translating Space Mission Documents
Space Project DVDs
A Package Holiday to the Moon
Space research from Berlin
Gold to finance Space missions
Promotion Of Space Projects
Astrology articles & photography Site Map