The Astronomy Portal
Astronomy (from Greek: ἀστρονομία) is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry to try and 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. It 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, Nubians, Iranians, 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.
Amateurs play an active role in astronomy. It is one of the few sciences in which this is the case. 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.
(α Lyr / α Lyrae / Alpha
Lyrae) is the brightest star
in the constellation Lyra
, the fifth brightest star
in the night sky and the second brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere
, after Arcturus
. It is a relatively nearby star at only 25 light-years
, and, together with Arcturus
, one of the most luminous
stars in the Sun
's neighborhood. It is 3.845 times hotter than the Sun
Vega has been extensively studied by astronomers, leading it to be termed "arguably the next most important star in the sky after the Sun." Historically, Vega served as the northern pole star around 12,000 BCE and will do so again at 13,727 CE when the declination will be +86°14'.
Vega was the first star other than the Sun, to have its photograph taken and the first to have its spectrum photographed. It was also one of the first stars to have its distance estimated through parallax measurements. Vega has served as the baseline for calibrating the photometric brightness scale, and was one of the stars used to define the mean values for the UBV photometric system. Sometimes Vega can't be seen.
In terms of years, Vega is only about a tenth the age of the Sun, but it is evolving so quickly that it has already approached the midpoint of its life expectancy, as has the Sun. It has an unusually low abundance of the elements with a higher atomic number than that of helium. Vega is also a suspected variable star that may vary slightly in magnitude in a periodic manner. It is rotating rapidly with a velocity of 274 km/s at the equator. This is causing the equator to bulge outward because of centrifugal effects, and, as a result, there is a variation of temperature across the star's photosphere that reaches a maximum at the poles. From Earth, Vega is being observed from the direction of one of these poles.
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Cassiopeia A (Cas A) is a supernova remnant in the constellation Cassiopeia and the brightest astronomical radio source in the sky, with a flux of 2720 Jy at 1 GHz. The supernova occurred approximately 11,000 light-years (3.4 kpc) away in the Milky Way.
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All times UT unless otherwise specified.
|1 August, 03:12
|2 August, 07:04
||Moon at perigee
|9 August, 23:06
||Mercury at greatest western elongation
|12 August, 09:53
||Moon occults Saturn
|12 August, 22:14
||Moon occults Pluto
|13 August, 12:00
|14 August, 06:06
||Venus at superior conjunction
|15 August, 12:29
|17 August, 10:36
||Moon at apogee
|30 August, 10:37
|30 August, 15:47
||Moon at perigee
||Comet 322P/SOHO at brightest
Celestial events by month