Chapter 3 : Branches of Astronomy
There are really two main branches of astronomy:
Topics covered in this snack-sized chapter:
- Optical astronomy -The study of celestial objects in the visible band.
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 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.
- Non-optical astronomy - The use of instruments to study objects in the radio through gamma-ray wavelengths.
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 studies how the Sun changes and understands how these changes affect the Earth.
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 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.
Astronomers study other galaxies in the Universe to learn how galaxies are grouped and interact on a large scale.
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 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.