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Astronomy in Everyday Life



Humans have historically looked to the sky for guidance across wide oceans, agricultural planting timing, and answers to the puzzles of our origins and migration. It’s a discipline that broadens our perspectives, helps us understand our place in the universe, and can change the way we perceive the outside world. A revolution began when Copernicus asserted that Earth was not the center of the universe. A revolution that required society, science, and religion to change to reflect this new worldview tanzohub.

Astronomy has always had a big impact on our worldview. Ancient societies associated celestial bodies with the gods and interpreted their motions across the heavens as future predictions. Although this is far from the concrete data and pricey equipment of modern astronomy, we would now refer to it as astrology. Nevertheless, there are still remnants of this past in contemporary astronomy. Consider the names of the contest: Perseus, the demi-god who saved Andromeda, or Andromeda, the bound girl from Greek mythology.

Exploring the Universe: Unanswered Questions in Astronomy

We find ourselves and our perception of the world increasingly interwoven with the stars as our comprehension of the world deepens. The knowledge that the fundamental elements present in stars, as well as the gas and dust surrounding them, are also those that make up our bodies, has strengthened the connection between people and the universe. This connection has an impact on our lives, and the wonder it evokes may be the reason why astronomy produces such stunning visuals that are so well-liked in modern society.

Astronomy still has a lot of unsolved questions. It is difficult for current science to answer queries like “How old are we?” What will become of the universe? universe?  and perhaps the most intriguing: “How special is the universe, and could life have ever existed in a slightly different universe? However, astronomy is also setting new records every day for the greatest temperatures, most powerful explosions, most enormous objects, and longest distances traveled.

The Significance of Astronomy and Fundamental Research

While searching for the answers to these questions is an essential aspect of being human, it has become more crucial in the modern world to be able to defend your search. This comment aptly captures the challenges associated with conveying the significance of astronomy and fundamental research in general:

Maintaining knowledge is simple. Knowledge transfer is also simple. However, creating new information is not simple or quick. Fundamental research ensures long-term financial success while also enhancing any society’s culture by bringing reason and fundamental truth to it.

The Importance of Astronomy in Advancing Science and Technology

Other pieces of writing have also helped to address the issue, “Why is astronomy important?  In his paper, The Use of Astronomy (Aitken, 1933), Dr. Robert Aitken, the director of Lick Observatory, demonstrates that even in 1933, there was a need to defend our scientific methods. In summary, his final statement reads, “The mission of astronomy is to give man ever more knowledge of the universe and to help him ‘to learn humility and to know exaltation.'” More recently, C. In a 2012 essay, Renée James outlined the ways in which astronomy has contributed to contemporary technological advancements, including wireless internet, GPS, and medical imaging. “In summary, astronomy has been a cornerstone of technological progress throughout history, has much to contribute in the future, and offers all humans a fundamental sense of our place in an unimaginably vast and exciting universe,” writes Dave Finley in Finley (2013) as support for radio astronomy.

At the cutting edge of science and technology, astronomy and related subjects provide essential answers and spur innovation. The three primary areas of focus in the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) 2010–2020 strategic plan are science and research, technology and skills, and culture and society.

Even though “blue-skies research” like astronomy never produces noticeable results quickly, its pursuit calls for state-of-the-art tools and technologies that, through their wider use, can have an impact over a longer period of time.

The products of astronomy’s scientific and technological advancements, particularly in fields like electronics and optics, are now indispensable to our daily existence, appearing in devices like mobile phones, computers, satellites for communication, GPS, solar panels, and MRI scanners.

One of the few scientific disciplines that have direct social interaction is astronomy. Crossing boundaries as well as actively encouraging global cooperation. We describe the concrete contributions that astronomy has made to many fields in the text that follows.

Transfer of technology

From industry to astronomy

The most beneficial instances of astronomy and industry technology transfer include advancements in communications and imaging. For instance, Kodak Technical Pan film was initially developed so that solar astronomers could document changes in the sun’s surface structure. Industrial photographers, spectroscopists in the medical and industrial fields, and painters all frequently use it today. Furthermore, Technical Pan was developed for several decades (until it was discontinued) in response to the demands of astronomers. It was used in dentistry and medical diagnosis, for detecting crop and forest diseases, and for penetrating painting layers to uncover fakes (National Research Council, 1991).

Radio astronomy has yielded a multitude of helpful instruments, gadgets, and data-processing techniques for use in the communication field. Radio astronomers built many successful communications enterprises in the past. Originally developed for the Kitt Peak 36-foot telescope, the computer language FORTH served as the foundation for a very successful business (Forth Inc.). FedEx uses it today all around the world for tracking purposes.

Here are a few more instances of astronomy and industry technology transfer (National Research Council, 2010):

  • General Motors analyzes crash data using the astronomical programming language Interactive Data Language (IDL).
  • A company has obtained the first patents for methods of detecting gravitational radiation, which is generated when large bodies accelerate. This will aid in determining the gravitational stability of subterranean oil deposits.
  • AT&T, a telecommunications firm, analyzes computer systems and solid-state physics graphics using the Image Reduction and Analysis Facility (IRAF), a set of tools developed at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory.
  • Astronomer Larry Altschuler’s work recreating the Solar Corona from its projections led to the invention of tomography, the technique of imaging in sections using a penetrating wave. (M. D. Schuler, 1979)

From space exploration to the aircraft industry

The majority of technology used in astronomy and the aerospace industry is shared in the areas of imaging, image processing, and telescope and instrument hardware.

Information gathering for the military has moved from ground-based to aerial and space-based methods with the advent of space-based telescopes. Defense satellites need the same hardware and technology as their astronomical counterparts because they are essentially telescopes aimed toward Earth. Furthermore, the same software and procedures used to process astronomical photos are also used to process satellite photographs.

The following are some particular instances of astronomical advancements utilized in defense (National Research Council, 2010):

  • Rocket plume and cosmic object distinctions are made using star observations and stellar atmosphere simulations. Currently, research is being done on using the same technique in early warning systems.
  • Aerospace engineering also makes use of observations of star distributions in the sky, which are used to point and calibrate telescopes.
  • Astronomers developed a solar-blind photon counter to measure light particles from a source throughout the day without interference from solar light particles. Today, this is utilized to identify ultraviolet (UV) photons originating from a missile’s exhaust, enabling an almost entirely false-alarm-free UV missile warning system. Toxic gases can also be detected with the same method.
  • Quasars and far-off galaxies are among the celestial objects that GPS satellites use to pinpoint their precise locations.

Medicine and astronomy

It is an ongoing effort for astronomers to see objects that are getting farther away and dimmer. Similar problems arise when trying to observe things that are hidden inside the human body in medicine. High-resolution, precise, and detailed photographs are necessary for both professions. Astronomy has produced numerous programming languages—IDL and IRAF in particular—that greatly simplify picture processing. Applications for these languages in medicine are common (Shasharina, 2005).

The creation of clean working spaces is a significant example of how astronomical research has benefited the medical field. In order to prevent dust or other particles from obscuring or obstructing the telescopes’ mirrors or equipment, space-based telescope manufacturing requires a very clean environment (such as NASA’s STEREO project; Gruman, 2011). Hospitals and pharmaceutical labs now employ the cleanroom procedures, air filters, and bunny suits that were created to do this (Clark, 2012).

The following is a list of some other direct medical uses for astronomy instruments:

  • A pharmaceutical business and the Cambridge Automatic Plate Measuring Facility collaborated to speed up the analysis of blood samples from leukemia patients, resulting in more precise medication adjustments (National Research Council, 1991).
  • A non-invasive method for tumor detection was developed by radio astronomers. In patients with breast cancer, this has a 96% true-positive detection rate when combined with other conventional techniques (Barret et al., 1978).
  • Neonatology units, which care for newborns, use small thermal sensors to regulate heating, a function that was first used in telescope instrument temperature management (National Research Council, 1991).
  • NASA developed a low-energy X-ray scanner that is presently utilized in third-world clinics, outpatient surgery, and sports injuries. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also used it to investigate the possibility of contamination with specific medications (National Research Council, 1991).
  • Medical researchers are currently using software designed for interpreting satellite images from orbit to develop a straightforward technique for implementing widespread Alzheimer’s disease screening (ESA, 2013).

Observing celestial objects through the turbulent atmosphere is not that different from looking through the fluid-filled, continually moving eye of a live being, and the same basic method appears to be effective for both. Retinal imaging in living patients can be performed using adaptive optics, which is utilized in astronomy to investigate illnesses such macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa in their early stages. In 2010, Boston Micromachines Corporation

Learn more: What is astronomy, its history, and its discoveries?

Using astronomy in daily life

People use astronomical technologies in numerous things that they come into contact with daily. The wireless local area network (WLAN) is arguably the most widely utilized invention developed in astronomy. John O’Sullivan created a technique in 1977 for refining radio telescope photographs. This technique was also extended to other radio transmissions, particularly those intended to fortify computer networks, and is currently a fundamental component of all WLAN implementations (Hamaker et al., 1977).

The following is a list of some widely used technologies that were first created for astronomy (National Research Council, 2010):

  • Airport X-ray baggage belts of today also incorporate technologies from X-ray observatories.
  • Baggage is inspected for drugs and explosives in airports using a gas chromatograph, a device intended for a Mars trip that separates and analyzes substances.
  • Law enforcement uses hand-held Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) photometers, instruments made by astronomers to measure light intensity, to confirm that car windows are transparent.
  • Originally designed to analyze lunar soil, gamma-ray spectrometers are today employed as a non-invasive method of examining the structural deterioration of old structures or seeing behind delicate mosaics, like those found in Venice’s St. Mark’s Basilica.
  • The contribution of astronomy to our understanding of time is more nuanced than these technological advances. The Moon’s movement served as the foundation for the first calendars, and astronomy even defines what a second is. Astronomical Ephemeris Time, a previous standard astronomical timescale that the IAU accepted in 1952, was used to calibrate the atomic clock, which was produced in 1955. As a result, the second was redefined in a way that was accepted globally (Markowitz et al., 1958).

Although astronomy has a significant impact on our culture, these are all very concrete examples of how it affects our daily lives. For non-astronomers, there are a plethora of astronomy books and journals available. More than 500 million people have watched Carl Sagan’s television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage in more than 60 countries, while Stephen Hawking’s best-selling A Brief History of Time has sold over ten million copies (Paris, 2007).

During the largest science education and public outreach event, the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), many non-astronomers also got involved with astronomy. Through dozens of activities, the IYA 2009 reached more than 148 million people in more than 100 countries (IAU, 2010).

In brief

In the text above, we have discussed the material and immaterial reasons astronomy is significant to civilization. Even though we have primarily discussed technology and knowledge transfer, astronomy’s ability to help us understand our place in the wide universe may still be its greatest contribution. In his book The Pale Blue Dot: A Brief History of Astronomy, American astronomer Carl Sagan demonstrated one of astronomy’s most straightforward and inspirational contributions to civilization.

Astronomy is supposed to be a humble and character-building activity. This far-off picture of our little earth may be the best example of the foolishness of human conceit. It emphasizes, in my opinion, how important it is that we treat each other with more kindness and protect the little blue dot that has been our sole home.

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