astronomy

Astro

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Astronomy


Astronomy is a very interesting and in-depth scientific study of celestial objects and analysis based on the positioning of the celestial bodies. The various theories of astronomy use mathematics, physics and chemistry in their explanation of celestial bodies, their movements, their origin and evolution. Celestial bodies include the sun, moons, planets, stars, galaxies, comets, meteorites, asteroids and such others. The various phenomenon explained in astronomy include the black hole, super nova explosions, cosmic radiations, gamma ray bursts and many others. These entire phenomena which occur in the deep space are also within the spectrum of astronomy. Astronomy has captivated mankind since time immemorial. The earliest civilizations such as the Greeks, Indians, Babylonians, Nubians, Iranians, Chinese and others have deeply studied the celestial objects in the night sky. Astronomy is divided into many subdivisions such as astrophysics, astrometry, making of calendars and celestial navigation. Before the discovery of the telescope, astronomical findings largely depended upon the observations with the naked eye. They studied the various patterns of the celestial bodies in the sky such as the constellations and made predictions based on that. Astronomical science also had a lot of religious and superstitious myth before the advent of the telescope. Initially, astrology and astronomy were linked with each other but with the progress in science, astrology is no longer considered a science. Astronomy took a deeper turn in the 20th century when it was split into theoretical branches and observational astronomy. The latter focuses on observing the positioning and the movements of the celestial objects and deriving conclusions based on applied physics thereafter whereas the theory revolves around the analytical or computer models and applying various sciences to come to a conclusion. Both lie in pursuit of each other with the observatory astronomy coming up with observations and theoretical astronomy explaining the reason for the observations. In this natural science, even an amateur astronomer can contribute a lot to the field by discovering various undiscovered phenomenon and discovering new comets in the night sky. Astronomy can be further subdivided into the following branches:
Planetary astronomers: These study the various planets; their evolution, death and the birth of new planets.
Solar Astronomers: Study only the sun
Stellar astronomers: Study the various stars, super nova and other such phenomena.
Galactic astronomers: They study our Galaxy – Milky way in detail
Extragalactic astronomers: They study the entire phenomenon occurring outside the galaxy.
Cosmologists: They study the entire universe as a whole and focus on larger theories like the big bang, evolution of the universe and so on.
Astrometry: Prediction of events such as the comets, meteorite showers and such others are done by studying the movements of the sun, planets, moon and the stars.
Astronomy saw a major breakthrough with the innovation of photography, especially digital photography after which amazing pictures of the space were possible to be taken and broadcasted to the public. Quite an intriguing subject, till date there are many unanswered questions related to astronomy and scientist may require a lot many years and new instruments to decipher the unsolved mysteries.

Development of Astronomy in India


Mankind has always been fascinated by the celestial sky. Man has gained in-depth knowledge by observing the night sky since time immemorial. Indian astronomy has been existent ever since the evolution of mankind. Indians have developed astronomy since the pre-historic times. The earliest origin apparently belongs to the era of Indus Valley civilization. Later, it found its mention in the Vedas also. Vedanga Jyotisha is said to be the oldest astronomy book penned down between 1400 to 1200 BCE. It depicts information on the sun, moon, celestial bodies and lunisolar calendars. It was also mentioned in this book about the various seasons in a year based upon religious beliefs. Several texts from the 1000 BC also denoted the division of a year into 360 days and these days into 12 lunar months of about 27 to 28 days each.
The Greeks are believed to be the initial founders of astronomy during the 2nd century. Romaka Sidhanta and Yavanajataka are Sanskrit translations from Greek astronomy scriptures. Indian astronomy followed the Greek astronomy and was greatly influenced by its findings. It took a religious form in Indian scriptures thereafter.
Indian astronomy grew by manifolds in the 5th or 6th century by Aryabhatta. He penned down the famous Aryabhatiya during this period which had a vivid description of astronomical knowledge. Later on, the muslim astronomy, European Astronomy, Chinese Astronomy and many others also got influenced the Indian astronomical scriptures. Aryabhatta’s work was later elaborated by Varahamihira, lalla and Brahmagupta. By this time, it was established that the orbits were elliptical and not circular contrary to the earlier belief.
Astronomy was quite prevalent in India in the 16th-17th century especially in Kerala. Sanku, also known as Gnomon was among the few devices used to depict astronomical figures. This device works on the basis of cardinal directions, the latitudes and the time of observation. A Cross-staff was also used during the 1114-1185 CE to determine the angles using calibrated scales. A phalak-yantra was also invented during this time to depict time from observing sun’s altitude. A clepsydra was also used until a few years back in India for astronomy. Indians used armillary sphere for observation since the ancient times and this has its mention in the Aryabhatia. The famous Maharaja of Jaipur got the famous astronomical observatory made in Jaipur based on Hindu and Muslim astronomy. There is a huge sundial here among many other astronomical devices.
The subject of astronomy has had its mention in poems, songs and in general Indian culture. The unpredicted forces of nature have always petrified and fascinated man and he has always tried to find ways of studying the patterns of life. Predicting some one’s future on the basis of the position of the celestial bodies is an age-old science in India and quite prevalent till today. The initial base of Indian astronomy was developed by linking the changing seasons and the movements of the celestial bodies in the sky. The science has grown by manifolds today which had earlier started on a religious basis.