Astronomy is a natural science which is the study of celestial objects (such as stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, comets and nebulae), the physics, chemistry, and evolution of such objects, and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth, including supernovae explosions, gamma ray bursts, and cosmic microwave background radiation. A related but distinct subject, physical cosmology, is concerned with studying the universe as a whole.
- Space is big. Really big. You won't believe how hugely mindbogglingly big it really is.
- For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God.
- It does at first appear that an astronomer rapt in abstraction, while he gazes on a star, must feel more exquisite delight than a farmer who is conducting his team.
- Isaac D'Israeli, Literary Character of Men of Genius, On Habituating Ourselves to an Individual Pursuit; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 46.
- Although Uranus and Neptune are superficially twin planets, they are different enough to remind us - as do Venus and Earth - that we still have a lot to learn about the mix of natural laws and historical accidents that formed the planets and fashioned their destinies.
- Timothy Ferris - Seeing in the Dark, 2002.
- L’astronomie est fille de l’oisiveté, la géométrie est fille de l’intérêt
- Astronomy is the daughter of idleness, geometry is the daughter of interest.
- Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, in Premier Soir, Entretiens Sur La Pluralité Des Mondes (1686). Translated by Glanville in 'The First Evening, Conversations with a Lady, on the Plurality of Words (1728), 10.
- Surtout l’astronomie et l’anatomie sont les deux sciences qui nous offrent le plus sensiblement deux grands caractères du Créateur; l’une, son immensité, par les distances, la grandeur, et le nombre des corps célestes; l’autre, son intelligence infinie, par la méchanique des animaux.
- Above all, astronomy and anatomy are the two sciences which present to our minds most significantly the two grand characteristics of the Creator; the one, His immensity, by the distances, size, and number of the heavenly bodies; the other, His infinite intelligence, by the mechanism of animate beings.
- Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle, Original French and translation in Craufurd Tait Ramage (ed.) Beautiful Thoughts from French and Italian Authors (1866), 119-120.
- The wonder is, not that the field of stars is so vast, but that man has measured it.
- Anatole France - The Garden of Epicurus, 1894.
- Over the rim of waiting earth the moon lifted with majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings...
- Kenneth Grahame - The Wind in the Willows, 1908.
- If you are cheerful, and wish to remain so, leave the study of astronomy alone. Of all the sciences, it alone deserves the character of the terrible.
- Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!
- A strange weasel-built creature with a curly tail.
- It's unique because it doesn't look like a comet with the typical tail; it looks like a cloud. It's not what you would normally see at all … With the naked eye, it looks like a star or planet, but with binoculars it's really weird looking; it doesn't happen every day.
- George Masterson, physics and astronomy teacher on Comet 17P/Holmes - quoted in "Mysteriously bright comet provides sky-high teaching moment at NHS" in the Daily News of Newburyport (9 November 2007).
- We have now a science called astronomy. That science has done more to enlarge the horizon of human thought than all things else. We now live in an infinite universe. We know that the sun is a million times larger than our earth, and we know that there are other great luminaries millions of times larger than our sun. We know that there are planets so far away that light, traveling at the rate of one hundred and eighty- five thousand miles a second, requires fifteen thousand years to reach this grain of sand, this tear, we call the earth -- and we now know that all the fields of space are sown thick with constellations. If that statute had been enforced, that science would not now be the property of the human mind. That science is contrary to the Bible, and for asserting the truth you become a criminal. For what sum of money, for what amount of wealth, would the world have the science of astronomy expunged from the brain of man? We learned the story of the stars in spite of that statute.
- Robert G. Ingersoll The Great Infidels (1881)
- L’astronomie … est l’arbitre de la division civile du temps, l'ame de la chronologie et de la géographie, et l’unique guide des navigateurs.
- Astronomy is the governor of the civil division of time, the soul of chronology and geography, and the only guide of the navigator.
- Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, in Leçons Élémentaires d’Astronomie Géométrique et Physique (1764), iii. English as quoted in Preface to Hannah Mary Bouvier Peterson, Bouvier’s Familiar Astronomy; Or, An Introduction to the Study of the Heavens (1855), Preface, 5.
- No. 4638: Luther Rejects the Copernican Cosmology June 4, 1539 There was mention of a certain new astrologer who wanted to prove that the earth moves and not the sky, the sun, and the moon. This would be as if somebody were riding on a cart or in a ship and imagined that he was standing still while the earth and the trees were moving. [Luther remarked,] “So it goes now. Whoever wants to be clever must agree with nothing that others esteem. He must do something of his own. This is what that fellow does who wishes to turn the whole of astronomy upside down. Even in these things that are thrown into disorder I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth [Josh. 10:12].”
- Martin Luther (1999, c1967). Vol. 54: Luther's works, vol. 54 : Table Talk (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (54:358). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
- I subscribe to Jastrow’s view that modern astronomy has found reliable evidence that the Universe was created some fifteen to twenty billion years ago ... I find it very moving to see how the evidence for the Creation . . . should be so clearly stamped on everything around us: the rocks, the sky, the radio waves, and on the most fundamental laws of physics.
- Dr. John A. O’Keefe, of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), cited in The Watchtower magazine, 2/15, 1989.
- And God made two great lights, great for their use
To man, the greater to have rule by day,
The less by night, altern.
- L’Astronomie est utile, parce qu’elle nous élève au-dessus de nous-mêmes; elle est utile, parce qu’elle est grande; elle est utile, parce qu’elle est belle… C’est elle qui nous montre combien l’homme est petit par le corps et combien il est grand par l’esprit, puisque cette immensité éclatante où son corps n’est qu’un point obscur, son intelligence peut l’embrasser tout entière et en goûter la silencieuse harmonie.
- Astronomy is useful because it raises us above ourselves; it is useful because it is grand… It shows us how small is man’s body, how great his mind, since his intelligence can embrace the whole of this dazzling immensity, where his body is only an obscure point, and enjoy its silent harmony.
- Henri Poincaré, in La Valeur de la Science (1904), 276, translated by George Bruce Halsted, in The Value of Science (1907), 84.
- At night astronomers agree.
- Matthew Prior, Phillis's Age, Stanza 3; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 46.
- A fair number of people who go on to major in astronomy have decided on it certainly by the time they leave junior high, if not during junior high. I think it’s somewhat unusual that way. I think most children pick their field quite a bit later, but astronomy seems to catch early, and if it does, it sticks.
- Nancy Roman, from interview by Rebecca Wright, Oral History Transcript (15 Sep 2000), on NASA website
- My lord, they say five moons were seen tonight:
Four fixed, and the fifth did whirl about
The other four in wondrous motion.
- These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights
That give a name to every fixed star
Have no more profit of their shining nights
Than those that walk, and wot not what they are.
- And teach me how
To name the bigger light, and how the less,
That burn by day and night.
- There's some ill planet reigns;
I must be patient till the heavens look
With an aspect more favorable.
- Two things [are] more necessary in astronomy than in any other science: patience and organised coöperation. Patience because many of the phenomena develop so slowly that a long time is necessary for them to become measurable, coöperation because the material is too large and too various to be mastered by one man, or even by one institute. And coöperation not only between different workers and institutions all over the world, but also cooperation with predecessors and successors for the solution of problems that require, by their very nature, more than one man's lifetime. The astronomer—each working at his own task...—is always conscious of belonging to a community, whose members, separated in space and time, nevertheless feel joined by a very real tie, almost of kinship. He does not work for himself alone, he is not guided exclusively, and not even in the first place, by his own insight or preferences, his work is always coordinated with that of others as a part of an organised whole. He knows that, whatever his special work may be it is always a link in a chain, which derives its value from the fact that there is another link to the left and one to the right of it. It is the chain that is important, not the separate links.
- Willem de Sitter, "Relativity and Modern Theories of the Universe," Kosmos (1932)
- Socrates: Shall we set down astronomy among the objects of study? Glaucon: I think so, to know something about the seasons, the months and the years is of use for military purposes, as well as for agriculture and for navigation. Socrates: It amuses me to see how afraid you are, lest the common herd of people should accuse you of recommending useless studies.
- O how loud
It calls devotion! genuine growth of night!
Devotion! daughter of Astronomy!
An undevout Astronomer is mad.
- Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IX, line 774.