Chapter 2 Observing the Sky: The Birth of Astronomy
Much to your surprise, a member of the Flat Earth Society moves in next door. He believes that Earth is flat and all the NASA images of a spherical Earth are either faked or simply show the round (but flat) disk of Earth from above. How could you prove to your new neighbor that Earth really is a sphere? (When you’ve thought about this on your own, you can check later in the chapter for some suggested answers.)
Today, few people really spend much time looking at the night sky. In ancient days, before electric lights robbed so many people of the beauty of the sky, the stars and planets were an important aspect of everyone’s daily life. All the records that we have—on paper and in stone—show that ancient civilizations around the world noticed, worshipped, and tried to understand the lights in the sky and fit them into their own view of the world. These ancient observers found both majestic regularity and never-ending surprise in the motions of the heavens. Through their careful study of the planets, our ancestors from many cultures laid the foundation of the science of astronomy.
We hope you will continue working your way through this book, but we wanted to share one of our favourite links from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) with some stargazing tips.
The sky above has inspired many artists. Here is a reproduction of Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night.
Please note that this book in its original format can be downloaded for free at https://openstax.org/details/books/astr.