Astronomers have learned lots about the universe − but how do they study astronomical objects too distant to visit?

Feb 1, 2020
167
95
4,660
What astronomers can measure using telescopes is not what we really want to know – instead, we calculate the properties we're interested in studying by observing and interpreting apparent properties from afar.

Astronomers have learned lots about the universe − but how do they study astronomical objects too distant to visit? : Read more
They use telescopes, obviously. Those are historically, Optical, since the 1950's radio wave and most recently, Infrared and ultraviolet, along with limited x-ray and now gravity wave devices.

Quite a lot has been learned too.

One problem is that the farther away you look, the less you are able to see small details. For observations of Jupiter for instance, from Earth it's hard to make out details much smaller than the state of Texas, or the nation of Switzerland. To learn much more, we had to send satellites there to look from closer up.
So we are in something of a quandary. There is a lot to learn and a lot has been learned. But it's become expensive and more and more removed from ordinary life. Selling the results as "Science" is becoming harder to do as well.

The value of science comes from it's ability to allow us to predict what will happen if we do something or don't do it. This is what makes possible all of our technology. It has gone on since the ancient Sumerians figured out that mixing straw with mud and then drying it made bricks which could be used to build houses and walls. It made several of the ancient civilizations, and an extension of it has made us almost able to colonize the Moon and Mars.

Almost...

For interstellar distances, it's hard to see something as small as a planet. This limits us. For now.
 

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts