Outline of astronomy

Outline of astronomy
Mauna Kea in Hawaii is one of the world's premier observatory sites. Pictured is the W. M. Keck Observatory, an optical interferometer.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to astronomy:

Astronomy – studies the universe beyond Earth, including its formation and development, and the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects (such as galaxies, planets, etc.) and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth (such as the cosmic background radiation).


Nature of astronomy

Astronomy can be described as all of the following:

  • An academic discipline: one with academic departments, curricula and degrees; national and international societies; and specialized journals.
  • A scientific field (a branch of science) – widely-recognized category of specialized expertise within science, and typically embodies its own terminology and nomenclature. Such a field will usually be represented by one or more scientific journals, where peer reviewed research is published.

Branches of astronomy

  • Planetary Science – study of the planets of the Solar System.
    • Atmospheric science – study of atmospheres and weather.
    • Planetary formation – formation of planets and moons in the context of the formation and evolution of the Solar System.
    • Planetary rings – dynamics, stability, and composition of planetary rings
    • Solar physics – Sun and its interaction with the remainder of the Solar System and interstellar space.
    • Magnetospheres – magnetic fields of planets and moons
    • Planetary surfaces – surface geology of planets and moons
    • Planetary interiors – interior composition of planets and moons
    • Small Solar System bodies – smallest gravitationally bound bodies, including asteroids, comets, and Kuiper belt objects.

The subdisciplines of observational astronomy are generally made by the specifications of the detectors:

General techniques for astronomical research are also convenient ways of dividing the field:

  • Photometry – study of how bright celestial objects are when passed through different filters
  • Spectroscopy – study of the spectra of astronomical objects
  • Astrometry – study of the position of objects in the sky and their changes of position. Defines the system of coordinates used and the kinematics of objects in our galaxy.

Other disciplines that may be considered part of astronomy:

History of astronomy

Main article: History of astronomy

Basic astronomical phenomena

Instruments, measurement and units

Astronomical objects

Astronomical object

Solar system

The Sun Mercury Venus The Moon Earth Mars Phobos and Deimos Ceres The main asteroid belt Jupiter Moons of Jupiter Rings of Jupiter Saturn Moons of Saturn Rings of Saturn Uranus Moons of Uranus Rings of Uranus Neptune Moons of Neptune Rings of Neptune Pluto Moons of Pluto Haumea Moons of Haumea Makemake The Kuiper Belt Eris Dysnomia The Scattered Disc The Hills Cloud The Oort CloudSolar System Template Final.png




Small solar system bodies

Small Solar System body

Stars and stellar objects


Variable stars

Variable star



Black holes

Artist's representation of a black hole.

Black hole



The 88 modern constellations

Andromeda · Antlia · Apus · Aquarius · Aquila · Ara · Aries · Auriga · Boötes · Caelum · Camelopardalis · Cancer · Canes Venatici · Canis Major · Canis Minor · Capricornus · Carina · Cassiopeia · Centaurus · Cepheus · Cetus · Chamaeleon · Circinus · Columba · Coma Berenices · Corona Australis · Corona Borealis · Corvus · Crater · Crux · Cygnus · Delphinus · Dorado · Draco · Equuleus · Eridanus · Fornax · Gemini · Grus · Hercules · Horologium · Hydra · Hydrus · Indus · Lacerta · Leo · Leo Minor · Lepus · Libra · Lupus · Lynx · Lyra · Mensa · Microscopium · Monoceros · Musca · Norma · Octans · Ophiuchus · Orion · Pavo · Pegasus · Perseus · Phoenix · Pictor · Pisces · Piscis Austrinus · Puppis · Pyxis · Reticulum · Sagitta · Sagittarius · Scorpius · Sculptor · Scutum · Serpens · Sextans · Taurus · Telescopium · Triangulum · Triangulum Australe · Tucana · Ursa Major · Ursa Minor · Vela · Virgo · Volans · Vulpecula

Constellation history

The 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy after 150 AD

Andromeda · Aquarius · Aquila · Ara · Argo Navis · Aries · Auriga · Boötes · Cancer · Canis Major · Canis Minor · Capricornus · Cassiopeia · Centaurus · Cepheus · Cetus · Corona Australis · Corona Borealis · Corvus · Crater · Cygnus · Delphinus · Draco · Equuleus · Eridanus · Gemini · Hercules · Hydra · Leo · Lepus · Libra · Lupus · Lyra · Ophiuchus · Orion · Pegasus · Perseus · Pisces · Piscis Austrinus · Sagitta · Sagittarius · Scorpius · Serpens · Taurus · Triangulum · Ursa Major · Ursa Minor · Virgo

The 41 additional constellations added in the 16th–17th c.

▶ Vespucci or Corsalius early 16c: Crux · Triangulum Australe ▶ Vopel 1536: Coma Berenices ▶ Keyser & de Houtman 1596: Apus · Chamaeleon · Dorado · Grus · Hydrus · Indus · Musca · Pavo · Phoenix · Tucana · Volans ▶ Plancius 1613: Camelopardalis · Columba · Monoceros ▶ Habrecht 1621: Reticulum ▶ Hevelius 1683: Canes Venatici · Lacerta · Leo Minor · Lynx · Scutum · Sextans · Vulpecula ▶ de Lacaille 1763: Antlia · Caelum · Carina · Circinus · Fornax · Horologium · Mensa · Microscopium · Norma · Octans · Pictor · Puppis · Pyxis · Sculptor · Telescopium · Vela

Obsolete constellations including Ptolemy's Argo Navis

Obsolete constellations including Ptolemy's Argo Navis Anser · Antinous · Argo Navis · Asterion · Cancer Minor · Cerberus · Chara · Custos Messium · Felis · Frederici Honores/Gloria Frederici · Gallus · Globus Aerostaticus · Jordanus · Lochium Funis · Machina Electrica · Malus · Mons Maenalus · Musca Borealis · Noctua · Officina Typographica · Polophylax · Psalterium Georgianum/Harpa Georgii · Quadrans Muralis · Ramus Pomifer · Robur Carolinum · Sceptrum Brandenburgicum · Sceptrum et Manus Iustitiae · Solarium · Rangifer/Tarandus · Taurus Poniatovii · Telescopium Herschelii · Testudo · Tigris · Triangulum Minus · Turdus Solitarius · Vespa · Vultur cadens · Vultur volans

Clusters and nebulae



Space exploration

See: Outline of space exploration


Books and publications


See also


  1. ^ "astrophysics". Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/astrophysics. Retrieved 2011-05-22. 

External links

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