|the scientific study of the individual celestial bodies (excluding the earth) and of the universe as a whole. Its various branches include astrometry, astrodynamics, cosmology, and astrophysics|
|[C13: from Old French astronomie, from Latin astronomia, from Greek; see |
|astronomy (ə-strŏn'ə-mē) Pronunciation Key
The scientific study of the universe and the objects in it, including stars, planets, nebulae, and galaxies. Astronomy deals with the position, size, motion, composition, energy, and evolution of celestial objects. Astronomers analyze not only visible light but also radio waves, x-rays, and other ranges of radiation that come from sources outside the Earth's atmosphere.
The Hebrews were devout students of the wonders of the starry firmanent (Amos 5:8; Ps. 19). In the Book of Job, which is the oldest book of the Bible in all probability, the constellations are distinguished and named. Mention is made of the "morning star" (Rev. 2:28; comp. Isa. 14:12), the "seven stars" and "Pleiades," "Orion," "Arcturus," the "Great Bear" (Amos 5:8; Job 9:9; 38:31), "the crooked serpent," Draco (Job 26:13), the Dioscuri, or Gemini, "Castor and Pollux" (Acts 28:11). The stars were called "the host of heaven" (Isa. 40:26; Jer. 33:22). The oldest divisions of time were mainly based on the observation of the movements of the heavenly bodies, the "ordinances of heaven" (Gen. 1:14-18; Job 38:33; Jer. 31:35; 33:25). Such observations led to the division of the year into months and the mapping out of the appearances of the stars into twelve portions, which received from the Greeks the name of the "zodiac." The word "Mazzaroth" (Job 38:32) means, as the margin notes, "the twelve signs" of the zodiac. Astronomical observations were also necessary among the Jews in order to the fixing of the proper time for sacred ceremonies, the "new moons," the "passover," etc. Many allusions are found to the display of God's wisdom and power as seen in the starry heavens (Ps. 8; 19:1-6; Isa. 51:6, etc.)