Why Astronomy is Useful
This is taken from a paper circulated by CARINA advisor Professor John Percy to the organizing committee of Commission 46 of the International Astronomical Union. Commission 46 is responsible for the development and teaching of Astronomy thorough the world. Astronomy is deeply rooted in almost every culture, as a result of its practical applications, and its philosophical implications.

Among the scientific revolutions of history, astronomy stands out. In the recent lists of the hundred most influential people of the millennium, astronomers are always included.

Astronomy has obvious practical applications to: timekeeping; calendars; daily, seasonal, and long-term changes in weather; navigation; the effect of solar radiation, tides, and impacts of asteroids and comets with the Earth.

Astronomy has advanced the physical sciences by providing the ultimate physical laboratory - the Universe - in which scientists encounter environments far more extreme than anything on Earth. It has advanced the geological sciences by providing examples of planets and moons in a variety of environments, with a variety of properties.

Astronomical calculations have spurred the development of branches of mathematics such as trigonometry, logarithms, and calculus. Now they drive the development of computers: astronomers use a large fraction of all the supercomputer time in the world.

Astronomy has led to other technological advances, such as low-noise radio receivers, detectors ranging from photographic emulsions to electronic cameras, and image-processing techniques now used routinely in medicine, remote sensing and many other fields.

Astronomy reveals our cosmic roots, and our place in time and space. It deals with the origins of the Universe, galaxies, stars, planets, and the atoms and molecules of life - perhaps even life itself. It addresses one of the most fundamental questions of all - are we alone in the Universe?

Astronomy promotes environmental awareness, through images taken of our fragile planet from space, and through the realisation that we may be alone in the Universe.

Astronomy reveals a Universe that is vast, varied, and beautiful - the beauty of the night sky, the spectacle of an eclipse, the excitement of a black hole. Astronomy thus illustrates the fact that science has cultural as well as economic value. It has inspired artists and poets throughout the ages.

Astronomy harnesses the deepest emotions of humanity - curiosity, imagination, and a sense of shared exploration and discovery.

Astronomy, in philosophy and education, provides an example of an alternative approach to the scientific method - observation, simulation, and theory, in contrast to the usual experiment and theory.

Astronomy, in the classroom, can be used to illustrate many concepts of physics, such as gravitation, light, and spectra.

Astronomy, if properly taught, can promote understanding of the nature of science, and can promote rational thinking, through examples drawn from the history of science, and from contemporary issues such as the proliferation of pseudo-science.

Astronomy, by introducing students to the size and age of objects in the Universe, gives them experience in thinking more abstractly about scales of time, distance, and size.

Astronomy is the ultimate interdisciplinary subject, and integrative approaches&Mac226; and cross-curricular connections are increasingly important and valued concepts in modern school curriculum development.

Astronomy attracts young people to science and technology, and hence to careers in these fields.

Astronomy can promote and increase public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of science and technology, among people of all ages.

Astronomy is an enjoyable, inexpensive hobby for millions of people - the naturalists of the night.
 
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