Branches of Astronomy



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Chapter 3 : Branches of Astronomy



Branches of Astronomy arrow_upward


  • There are really two main branches of astronomy:
    • Optical astronomy -The study of celestial objects in the visible band.
    • Non-optical astronomy - The use of instruments to study objects in the radio through gamma-ray wavelengths.

    Optical Astronomy arrow_upward


  • It is the observation of the celestial objects through the optical window.
  • Some of the techniques that are used for this type of study are reflecting telescopes or refracting telescopes.

  • Non-Optical Astronomy arrow_upward


  • Non-optical astronomy is the study of the sky through forms of energy and particles that we cannot see with our unaided senses.
  • These forms of energy include radio and sub-millimeter waves, infrared and ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays.

  • Subfields of Astronomy arrow_upward



    Planetary Astronomy:

  • Planetary Astronomy is the scientific study of planets (including Earth), moons, and planetary systems and the processes that form them.
  • Researchers in this subfield focus their studies on planets, both within and outside our solar system, as well as objects like asteroids and comets.

  • Solar Astronomy:

  • Solar astronomy studies how the Sun changes and understands how these changes affect the Earth.

  • Stellar Astronomy:

  • Stellar astronomy is the study of stars, including their creation, evolution and death.
  • Astronomers use instruments to study different objects across all wavelengths, and use the information to create physical models of the stars.

  • Galactic Astronomy:

  • Galactic astronomy is the study of our own Milky Way galaxy and all its contents.
  • The Milky Way Galaxy is a very complex system of stars, nebulae, and dust.
  • Astronomers study the motion and evolution of the Milky Way in order to learn how galaxies are formed.

  • Extragalactic Astronomy:

  • Astronomers study other galaxies in the Universe to learn how galaxies are grouped and interact on a large scale.

  • Cosmology:

  • Cosmology is the study of the structure of the Universe in order to understand its creation.
  • It endeavors to use the scientific method to understand the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the entire Universe.

  • Radio Astronomy:

  • Radio astronomy is a subfield of astronomy that studies celestial objects at radio frequencies.
    • Karl Jansky observed radiation coming from the Milky Way.
    • Later observations have identified a number of different sources of radio emission.
    • These include stars and galaxies, as well as entirely new classes of objects, such as radio galaxies, quasars, pulsars, and masers.


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