: Oddbjørn Engvold Bozena Czerny, John Lattanzio and Rolf Stabell
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Astronomy is the science of everything – with the exception of the Earth and everything on it and inside. Astronomy has a rich heritage dating back to the myths and legends of antiquity and the course of civilization has been greatly affected by mankind’s interpretation of what they saw in the starry sky and experienced through seasonal changes associated with the Sun and Moon. Early astronomy is associated with the definition of calendars which were needed to predict the dates of such as religious festivals and the numbers of months. A gradual shift of emphasis from astronomy to its sister, astrophysics, which took place through the 19th century, is generally attributed to the measurement of reliable stellar distances and the development of spectroscopy as a tool for understanding the physical nature of stars. Many paradigms in astronomy and its many subfields are continuously being shaken. New insights in the intricacy and elegance of the cosmos are steadily being obtained. Every few decennia, our concepts of the Universe are challenged and substantially modified. The reasons for this are the continuous development of new observing techniques and instruments for observatories both ground-based and in space, in addition to considerable progress in mathematics and physics, including computational ability. Our Universe harbors numerous phenomena and processes representing conditions that cannot be duplicated in terrestrial laboratories. Astronomy therefore frequently leads to fundamentally new insight and knowledge far beyond astronomy itself. Last but not least, it represents a first inspiring introduction to natural science, especially among young people, which is an extra motivation to many scientists to contribute to the Astronomy and Astrophysics Theme of this Encyclopedia. The book on Astronomy and Astrophysics with contributions from distinguished experts in the field, represents a first inspiring introduction to natural science, especially among young people, which is an extra motivation to many scientists to contribute to the Astronomy and Astrophysics Theme of this Encyclopedia. The first chapter which treats the development of astronomy and astrophysics in a historical perspective is followed by an account of the impact of astronomy on human culture and civilization. Observational astronomy is facing a number of environmental challenges. The nature and complexity of these and how the associated problems are met and overcome are described in the third article. Various aspects of our solar system are covered by authoritative articles on the Sun, planets including their satellites and smaller bodies, plus a review of the laws of motions and orbits of celestial bodies. The detection and studies of exo-solar planetary systems is rapidly developing field in astronomy which is treated in a separate chapter. Then follow fascinating up-to-date overviews on stars describing their formation, structure and life cycles. Stars are the building blocks of larger cosmic entities leading to the enigmatic galaxies composed of billions of stars, and gradually to clusters of galaxies. The final chapters cover the origin and evolution of galaxies and the large-scale structure of the Universe, including dark matter and dark energy which are among the most fascinating problems of physics today. These two volumes are aimed at the following five major target audiences: University and College students Educators, Professional practitioners, Research personnel and Policy analysts, managers, and decision makers and NGOs.