Looking to the Stars: Astronomy
Astronomy is the realm of our scientific study of the Universe. The very word conjures up in our mind the space, dark galaxies, heavenly planets, stars, milky ways, constellations and black holes. It is the science, which tells us how the Universe was born, probably out of a huge explosion of the inert gases in the outer space (the ‘Big Bang’ theory which we know of as of now…), how the stars are formed and why the planets shine or how the sun and the moon get their lights. This science also tells us what is the distance between earth and the moon, or the sun and the earth, how many planets and moons (or satellites) are there in the Universe, what are asteroids and meteorites or how the stellar activities affects the geographical patterns of the earth and how inter-galactic movements cause catastrophes on the earth or if a large asteroid moving in a galactic orbit would collide with us!
Looking back at history from ancient to modern times we see that the greatest of the greats like Euclid, Galileo, Copernicus all had been the masters of the science of the Universe, which unraveled lot of mysteries of our Science, primarily physics, which lead to pioneering and path breaking discoveries of Newton, Einstein and other luminaries in medieval modern times and thus making human being the most intelligent species on this Universe. Newton’s discovery of Earth’s attraction to all objects or what we call the ‘gravity’, lead to the evolution of the theories which changed the very definition of inter galactic movements, planetary orbits, constellation positions, which subsequently revolutionized the space programs of mankind with geo-stationery orbits and global positioning satellites and the first manned expedition to space and then the historic mission to moon.
Astronomy subsequently lead to another area of scientific study of the Universe with relevance to physics thus making ‘astro-physics’ a subject by itself. It got its relevance from the fact that if laws of physics are applicable to terrestrial objects, then it must be applicable to the stellar objects as we, which are the planets, stars, moons and other moving particles. Till then material physics was two dimensional, with two vertices- x (vertical) and y (horizontal), which soon had another component or vertex added as z(third dimension or space… that’s what we called 3 – dimensional).
Sir, Albert Einstein changed the face of the astro-physics science and revolutionized with his path breaking ‘Theory of Relativity’ which talked about another dimension, which is ‘Time’. This actually made physics looked so simple and applied Newton’s universal “Laws of Motion” on the planetary bodies, where the fourth dimension was provided by the ‘relativity of time’ (from his E=MC2), which showed how the relative speed or movement of planetary objects vary in space- thus leading to the modern day’s technology development of Space Programs.
So there we are today, in 2009, where we are building International Space Station and are dreaming of making human colony on the moon.