Ever wonder how scientists are able to what is out in space without ever being there? Since the early days stars have been a big mystery since it is nothing but a speck to the naked eye. Starting with the invention of the telescope, a whole new world came into perspective. Outside the confines of Earth’s atmosphere is space, an unknown universe to most people but with the seemingly skyrocketing innovations in the astronomy field, space is no longer uncharted. Technology is guiding the way for Astronomy and without these key innovations; space would still be a big mystery.
The key piece of technology used in the field of astronomy is the telescope. From Hans Lippershey’s original patent of a telescope in 1608 to modern day telescopes, a lot has changed as time went on. Lippershey and other telescope patentees moved in the right direction but it was not until 1609 when Galileo used the telescope to look up into the sky and space and discover the numerous objects floating in space. Galileo started a astronomical revolution and thus beginning a new era of looking at what is beyond Earth. His innovativeness discovered stars, planets, and rocks wandering aimlessly in space. The telescope, an optical instrument for making distant objects appear larger and therefore nearer, was vital in these discoveries. Telescopes made it easier to identify small objects in the sky, which thus made it easier to document objects in space.
The biggest discoveries were made with the most basic of telescopes and modern times is making huge discoveries with its modern telescopes. ALMA is today’s modern marvel with its 66 high precise antennas pointing to the sky, the slightest asteroid looks like a planet when looking through the telescope. The ALMA observatory is in Chile and it holds the best telescope known to man so it is creating some images that were never seen before. ALMA is a multinational collaboration bringing together European, Chinese and American nations together to create this huge telescope because what lies outside of earth is important for the survival of humanity. It is telescopes like ALMA that helps human control and predict what lies outside of Earth’s surface. What is so amazing is that all these discoveries are being made while standing on Earth’s soil and objects that are being discovered are several hundred light years away, it is one huge step for humanity. Predicting eclipses, meteor showers and other astronomical phenomena is so much easier than it is ever been before.
Breathtaking image from the ALMA telescope.
“The lifetime of a human being is measured by decades, the lifetime of the Sun is a hundred million times longer. Compared to a star, we are like mayflies, fleeting ephemeral creatures who live out their lives in the course of a single day.” -Carl Sagan
Space and the stars have been around longer than any human on the planet. The sun has been the source of life for humans and that has been around for billions of years but not a single human to see its creation but due to technological advances, humans are able to predict when the star was created. Humans may not live longer than stars but one thing humans can do is, predict the creation and death of a star.
“At every level in our inventory, nothing seems special about our Earth, our Sun, our Galaxy, our Local Group. Evidently, mediocrity reigns throughout. Such is our niche in the Universe.” -Eric Chaisson
It is well known that the universe is a large place but some do not have a sense of how big it really is. It has been documented that there are roughly 200 billion stars in the sky and roughly 50 billion stars like Earth’s sun. According to the article “At least 8.8 billion…,” there are about 8.8 billion Earth-like planets around the galaxy so it is hard to say that Earth takes up a large amount of room in space which is what people seem to believe.
If it was not for technologies like telescopes, it would be extremely difficult to see what lies just outside of Earth’s surface and most people would be living with huge amounts of ignorance.