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The wonder is, not that the field of stars is so vast, but that man has measured it.
~ Anatole France - The Garden of Epicurus, 1894.

Astronomy is a natural science which is the study of celestial objects (such as stars, galaxies, planets, moons, asteroids, comets and nebulae), 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 microwave background radiation. A related but distinct subject, physical cosmology, is concerned with studying the universe as a whole.


  • It does at first appear that an astronomer rapt in abstraction, while he gazes on a star, must feel more exquisite delight than a farmer who is conducting his team.
    • Isaac D'Israeli, Literary Character of Men of Genius, On Habituating Ourselves to an Individual Pursuit; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 46.
  • Although Uranus and Neptune are superficially twin planets, they are different enough to remind us - as do Venus and Earth - that we still have a lot to learn about the mix of natural laws and historical accidents that formed the planets and fashioned their destinies.
  • The wonder is, not that the field of stars is so vast, but that man has measured it.
  • Over the rim of waiting earth the moon lifted with majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings...
  • Look at the stars! look, look up at the skies!
    O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!

    The bright boroughs, the circle-citadels there!
  • A strange weasel-built creature with a curly tail.
    • Johannes Hevelius on his newly described constellation Lacerta the lizard in 1687 - reported in SkyNews The Canadian Magazine of Astronomy and Stargazing September/October 2002.
  • No. 4638: Luther Rejects the Copernican Cosmology June 4, 1539 There was mention of a certain new astrologer who wanted to prove that the earth moves and not the sky, the sun, and the moon. This would be as if somebody were riding on a cart or in a ship and imagined that he was standing still while the earth and the trees were moving. [Luther remarked,] “So it goes now. Whoever wants to be clever must agree with nothing that others esteem. He must do something of his own. This is what that fellow does who wishes to turn the whole of astronomy upside down. Even in these things that are thrown into disorder I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth [Josh. 10:12].”
    • Martin Luther (1999, c1967). Vol. 54: Luther's works, vol. 54 : Table Talk (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald and H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (54:358). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
  • I subscribe to Jastrow’s view that modern astronomy has found reliable evidence that the Universe was created some fifteen to twenty billion years ago ... I find it very moving to see how the evidence for the Creation . . . should be so clearly stamped on everything around us: the rocks, the sky, the radio waves, and on the most fundamental laws of physics.
    • wrote in 1980 Dr. John A. O’Keefe, of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), cited in The Watchtower magazine, 2/15, 1989.
  • And God made two great lights, great for their use
    To man, the greater to have rule by day,
    The less by night, altern.
  • At night astronomers agree.
    • Matthew Prior, Phillis's Age, Stanza 3; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 46.
  • My lord, they say five moons were seen tonight:
    Four fixed, and the fifth did whirl about
    The other four in wondrous motion.
  • These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights
    That give a name to every fixed star
    Have no more profit of their shining nights
    Than those that walk, and wot not what they are.
  • And teach me how
    To name the bigger light, and how the less,
    That burn by day and night.
  • Two things [are] more necessary in astronomy than in any other science: patience and organised coöperation. Patience because many of the phenomena develop so slowly that a long time is necessary for them to become measurable, coöperation because the material is too large and too various to be mastered by one man, or even by one institute. And coöperation not only between different workers and institutions all over the world, but also cooperation with predecessors and successors for the solution of problems that require, by their very nature, more than one man's lifetime. The astronomer—each working at his own task...—is always conscious of belonging to a community, whose members, separated in space and time, nevertheless feel joined by a very real tie, almost of kinship. He does not work for himself alone, he is not guided exclusively, and not even in the first place, by his own insight or preferences, his work is always coordinated with that of others as a part of an organised whole. He knows that, whatever his special work may be it is always a link in a chain, which derives its value from the fact that there is another link to the left and one to the right of it. It is the chain that is important, not the separate links.
    • Willem de Sitter, "Relativity and Modern Theories of the Universe," Kosmos (1932)
  • O how loud
    It calls devotion! genuine growth of night!
    Devotion! daughter of Astronomy!
    An undevout Astronomer is mad.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night IX, line 774.
  • I open the scuttle at night and see the far sprinkled systems,
    And all I see multiplied as high as I can cyper edge but rim of the farthest systems.

    Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always expanding,
    Outward and outward, forever outward.

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