Astronomer Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Farrell

Jen has taught Science in accredited schools in North & South America for thirteen years and has a degree in Sociology (Epidemiology & Aids Research).

Long ago, people believed the world was flat. Thanks to scientists who study the sky, we know this isn't true. In this lesson, we'll learn about famous astronomers and the tools they use to study space.

What Is an Astronomer?

Do you ever dream of traveling back in time? You can! All you have to do is look up at the sky. The farther away an object is, the longer it takes for the light to reach your eyes. When you look up at the stars, the light takes many years to travel to your eyes. You are looking into the past.

Astronomy is the study of the sun, moon, planets, and other objects in space. The scientists who study astronomy are called astronomers. It takes many years of school to become a professional astronomer. If you enjoy school, especially science and math, you could be a future astronomer.

The number of professional astronomers is small compared to other science professions. Luckily, there are many amateur astronomers who study space as a hobby. These unpaid individuals assist researchers by sharing their observations of the sky. Together these astronomers have filmed total solar eclipses, discovered new information about comets, and hunted for planets.

From the ancient Greeks to present-day scientists, numerous astronomers have made important discoveries, which have changed the way we think about the universe. Let's take a look at three famous astronomers and their 'out of the world' achievements.

Famous Astronomers

Eratosthenes (pronounced er-uh-tos-thuh-neez) was an astronomer who was the first scientist to measure the size of Earth. During his research, he also noticed the sky rotated around Earth on an imaginary line down the center of Earth. His discoveries showed that Earth is a rotating sphere, not flat like once thought.

As a child, Galileo Galilei was taught all objects in space orbit Earth. During his work as a scientist, he improved the magnification powers of a telescope and corrected a model previously made by another scientist, which demonstrated how Earth and other planets orbit the sun. After publishing his research, which went against popular belief, Galileo was placed on house arrest, confined to his home for nine years.

Have you ever had a delicious piece of food fall straight to the ground? Then, you have experienced gravity. Astronomer Sir Isaac Newton was responsible for formulating the laws of forces, like gravity. His work related to forces helped him to predict the path of comets and the dates of equinoxes. An equinox is when night and day are the same length, and this phenomenon happens twice a year.

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