The Gran Canaria Telescope, sitting atop a 2400-metre (8000-foot) peak on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, is the world’s...Read More >>The Gran Canaria Telescope, sitting atop a 2400-metre (8000-foot) peak on the island of La Palma in the Canaries, is the world’s largest telescope. Its light-collecting mirror, measuring 10.4 metres (34 feet) across, consists of 36 hexagons fitted together in a honeycomb pattern. Protected from the elements by a steel shell, the telescope is designed to seek out the most distant galaxies and quasars in the Universe. The very clear skies of the Canaries make it one of the best locations for astronomical observation.Astronomy is the study of space, including planets, stars and galaxies. We can see some objects in space with just the naked eye, but many more, including those that are billions of light years away, can only be studied by using a powerful telescope. Information about the objects in space ("celestial bodies") is gained from studying visible light or other forms of electromagnetic radiation such as radio waves and X-rays given off or reflected by them. Much of what we now know about the planets comes from space probes, which travel through space sending information back to the Earth.
In ancient Egyptian mythology, the god Horus was said to be the sky. The Sun was his right eye and the Moon his left. They...Read More >>In ancient Egyptian mythology, the god Horus was said to be the sky. The Sun was his right eye and the Moon his left. They travelled the sky when Horus, a falcon, flew across it. In this wall painting, the sky is symbolized by stars.
Thousands of years ago, in the time of the ancient civilizations of Egypt and China, people thought that the Sun and Moon were gods, the Earth was flat and the sky was a great dome suspended above it.
Claudius Ptolemy (c. AD 90-c.168), was a scientist who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, and wrote in Greek. His work on astronomy was...Read More >>Claudius Ptolemy (c. AD 90-c.168), was a scientist who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, and wrote in Greek. His work on astronomy was called the Almagest.
In later years, astronomers from ancient Greece proved that the Earth was round. Many believed that the stars were fixed to a great sphere that rotated around the Earth each day. One 3rd-century BC Greek astronomer, Aristarchus, proposed that the planets, including Earth, orbited the Sun, a star, but most astronomers of this time thought that the Sun, Moon and planets all travelled in circular paths around Earth, the centre of the Universe.
The Antikythera Mechanism, built between 150 and 80 BC, was designed to calculate the positions of the Sun, Moon and planets on any particular date. Made in ancient Greece, it has been described as the world's oldest known analogue computer. It consists of at least 30 interlocked gears turned by a hand crank.
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