Astrophysics vs Astronomy
Astronomy and astrophysics are sciences involving the celestial bodies. These are some of the oldest sciences of all times. These two subjects sound almost the same. But we will see that these two subjects actually differ from one another. This article is about the history of astronomy and astrophysics, their fields of study, similarities of astronomy and astrophysics and the difference between astronomy and astrophysics.
Astronomy is a vast subject. It is a natural science. Astronomy is the science of studying objects and phenomena that occurs outside the earth’s atmosphere. The study includes physics of stellar bodies, formation of the universe, evolution of the universe, chemistry of celestial bodies, meteorology of celestial bodies and motion of these objects. The objects studied under astronomy includes stars, planets, satellites, nebulae, galaxies, star clusters, galaxy clusters, comets and phenomena such as cosmic background radiation and red shift or blue shift of the objects. Astronomy is considered to be the most ancient natural science. There are evidence of ancient cultures have studied astronomy. Civilizations such as Greek, Babylonian, Chinese, Indian and even Mayan have left behind enough evidence to support the above theory. Great pyramids, the Stonehenge and Nubian monuments are to name a few. Astronomy has two main branches, theoretical astronomy and observational astronomy. Theoretical astronomy is the process of theory based models of the universe being put forward. These theories are pure imagination power of scientists or computer based models depending on previously accepted theories. Observational astronomy is the branch of astronomy that acquires data from equipment such as telescopes, radio telescope arrays or spectrometers and analyzes them to come up with a new model or support or oppose an existing model. Both theoretical and observational branches are equally important for the advancement of astronomy.
Although astronomy is an ancient subject, it was long considered as a philosophical subject, and was divided from the rest of the natural sciences including physics. Astrophysics is a word based on Greek. In Greek “astro” means star and “physis” means nature. Astrophysics means the nature of stars. It can be also taken as the study of motion and behavior of stellar objects. As astrophysics is a very broad subject, it requires knowledge of fields such as electromagnetic theory, mechanics, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics quantum mechanics, relativity, nuclear physics and particle physics. The study of astrophysics includes measuring properties such as chemical composition, density, mass, luminosity and temperature of stellar objects and using them to model and predict how the stellar bodies would behave.
What is the difference between astronomy and astrophysics?
– Astronomy is the study of the whole scope of celestial bodies, their behavior, their origins, observations and even the simple star charts.
– Astrophysics only studies the scope of physics of celestial objects and systems.
– While astronomy as a subject is very old, astrophysics is a relatively new field.
– Astrophysics is actually a branch of astronomy, which studies the physics of “astro” bodies.