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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.