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The Astronomy Portal

Astronomy portal

A man sitting on a chair mounted to a moving platform, staring through a large telescope.

Astronomy is a natural science that is the study of celestial objects (such as moons, planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies), the physics, chemistry, and evolution of such objects, and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth, including supernovae explosions, gamma ray bursts, and cosmic background radiation.

Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences. Prehistoric cultures have left astronomical artifacts such as the Egyptian monuments and Nubian monuments, and early civilizations such as the Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Indians, Iranians and Maya performed methodical observations of the night sky. However, the invention of the telescope was required before astronomy was able to develop into a modern science. Historically, astronomy has included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, and the making of calendars, but professional astronomy is nowadays often considered to be synonymous with astrophysics.

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Triton mosaic from Voyager 2
Triton is the largest moon of the planet Neptune, discovered on October 10, 1846 by William Lassell. It is the only large moon in the Solar System with a retrograde orbit, which is an orbit in the opposite direction to its planet's rotation. At 2700 km in diameter, it is the seventh-largest moon in the Solar System. Because of its retrograde orbit and composition similar to Pluto's, Triton is thought to have been captured from the Kuiper belt. Triton consists of a crust of frozen nitrogen over an icy mantle believed to cover a substantial core of rock and metal. The core makes up two-thirds of its total mass. Triton has a mean density of 2.061 g/cm3 and is composed of approximately 15–35% water ice.

Triton is one of the few moons in the Solar System known to be geologically active. As a consequence, its surface is relatively young, with a complex geological history revealed in intricate and mysterious cryovolcanic and tectonic terrains. Part of its crust is dotted with geysers believed to erupt nitrogen.

The moon was discovered by British astronomer William Lassell just 17 days after Neptune itself was discovered by German astronomers Johann Gottfried Galle and Heinrich Louis d'Arrest, who were following co-ordinates given them by French astronomer and mathematician Urbain Le Verrier.

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Flaming Star Nebula
Credit: User:Hewholooks

IC 405, also Sharpless 229 (Sh2-229), Caldwell 31 and The Flaming Star Nebula, is an emission/reflection nebula and a Caldwell object in the constellation Auriga, surrounding the bluish star AE Aurigae. It shines at magnitude +6.0. The nebula is about 5 light-years across. This is a white light image of the Flaming Star Nebula showing the "smoke" of reflection nebula.

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These books may be in various stages of development. See also the related Science and Mathematics bookshelves.

  • Astronomy
  • GAT: A Glossary of Astronomical Terms
  • Introduction to Astrophysics
  • General relativity
  • Observing the Sky from 30°S
  • Observing the Sky from 40°N


  • Solar System

Astronomical events

All times UT unless otherwise specified.

5 September Neptune at opposition
6 September, 04:35 Moon occults Neptune
6 September, 07:03 Full moon
12 September, 10:18 Mercury at greatest western elongation
13 September, 16:05 Moon at perigee
18 September, 00:55 Moon occults Venus
18 September, 19:42 Moon occults Mars
18 September, 23:21 Moon occults Mercury
20 September, 05:30 New moon
22 September, 20:02 Earth southward equinox
27 September, 06:51 Moon at apogee


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