Ghana Planetarium Science Project

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What is Astronomy?



Astronomy is the scientific observation and study of all that can be seen in the night sky, using mathematics to determine patterns in the position and movement of celestial objects. From the application of geometry to these observations astronomers can determine quantities such as the distance to stars, the recurrence of comets and the orbital paths of the planets around the Sun.

Picture caption: A scale comparison in size of the Earth and the Moon

Astronomy is considered the oldest of the natural sciences (physics, biology and chemistry), with its origins in the religious, mythological, and astrological practices of pre-history. Early astronomy involved observing the regular patterns of the motions of visible celestial objects, especially the Sun, Moon, stars and planets visible with the naked eye, which could then be used to establish an agricultural or ritual calendar.

Modern astronomy took a leap forward 400 years ago when Galileo Galilei become the first to use a telescope
to observe the night sky. Over the centuries since this auspicious event the human race has amassed a vast knowledge and understanding of the universe in which we live. From observations of planets, stars, galaxies and nebulae we have gained great insight into its size, its structure and its constituents, as well as answers to fundamental questions about how it all began.

Today, with technological advances we can see further than ever before, observing distant parts of the universe as they were many millions of years ago. One of the main joys of Astronomy is that it can be practised almost anywhere, with a vast array of things to be seen with only the naked eye, and vastly more with simple equipment such as a small telescope or a pair of binoculars.

Picture Caption: View of our galaxy, the Milky Way,
as seen from the position of Earth.

At Ghana Planetarium we have programmes and activities for schools on weekdays, and for the general public at weekend events, that will enthuse, excite and inform our visitors about the marvels that can be found in the night sky. We hope that this will create a greater admiration of the science of astronomy, as well as the related disciplines of physics, mathematics and chemistry. We also wish that by increasing the public's knowledge of our place within such a vast, rich universe, we will foster a greater appreciation for the environment of our own planet and the steps we must take now to ensure it is safeguarded for generations to come.

Picture Caption: Image of the Sun showing an eruption of a large solar flare.


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