Blackie’s Dictionary Of Astronomy by Blackie
Astronomy is such a broad topic that astronomers specialize in one or more parts of the field. For example, the study of the solar system is a different area of specialization than the study of stars. Astronomers who study our galaxy, the Milky Way, often use techniques different from those used by astronomers who study distant galaxies. Many planetary astronomers, such as scientists who study Mars, may have a geology background and not consider themselves astronomers at all. Solar astronomers use different telescopes than night time astronomers use because the Sun is so bright. Theoretical astronomers may never use telescopes at all. Instead, these astronomers use existing data or sometimes only previous theoretical results to develop and test theories. An increasing field of astronomy is computational astronomy, in which astronomers use computers to simulate astronomical events. Examples of events for which simulations are useful include the formation of the earliest galaxies of the universe or the explosion of a star to make a supernova.
Astronomers learn about astronomical objects by observing the energy they emit. These objects emit energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. This radiation travels throughout the universe in the form of waves and can range from gamma rays, which have extremely short wavelengths, to visible light, to radio waves, which are very long. The entire range of these different wavelengths makes up the electromagnetic spectrum
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