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The Australian Guide to Stargazing

Author / Publisher : Gregg Thompson
File Letter : Green dot
Topic : HANDBOOK
Comments : Published 1993

 

From the dawn of mankind, we have gazed in awe at the starry heavens.  Our ancestors wondered whether the stars might be holes in the night that let the light of heave pass through.  But why did some appear to be fixed whilst others appeared to fall from the sky? What made the Moon continuously change its shape and position? And what made the Sun so hot and so bright? To our predecessors, the thought that one day their descendants would actually learn how to reach the stars was simply unimaginable!

Throughout the ages, numerous imaginative theories were conceived to explain heavenly occurrences and these theories have been woven into the folklore of all the cultures for millennia.  Many survive today.  Only in the last few hundred years, and particularly the last 50, has a clear picture of the universe begun to unfold.

Science is often seen as something mathematical and incomprehensible, when, in fact, it is simply a process of observing and gradually understanding our world, ourselves and everything in the universe.  Mathematics is simply a tool used to clearly define what has been observed or needs to be tested. Mathematics is not necessary to participate in science, and it is not used in this book.

Even though scientists have made incredible discoveries about the immensity and complexity of the universe, only a small percentage of people know anything about this knowledge.  We not only have discovered extraordinary answers to our ancestors’ seemingly unanswerable questions but have asked countless more questions that have produces such mind boggling discoveries as neutron stars, quasars and gravity lenses that were far beyond the realm of our forefather’s wildest imaginations.  Our descendants are sure to continue discovering even more exotic astronomical objects and concepts.

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