Why study astronomy, and become an astronomer?

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First, because it is intrinsically fascinating. But also because it is "useful" in a variety of senses: it is deeply rooted in culture and philosophy; it has obvious practical applications; it is a forefront science that contributes to mathematics, computation, and other technologies; it reveals our cosmic roots, our place in time and space, and a universe that is wondrous and beautiful; it excites curiosity and imagination. It also contributes to education in many ways, and attracts young people to science and technology. (For a more comprehensive discussion of why astronomy is useful, see: Why Astronomy is Important.) The study of the universe is done in at least five different ways: (i) developing sophisticated ground-based and satellite telescopes and instruments (ii) using such instruments to observe the cosmos; (iii) analyzing astronomical images and measurements with powerful computer software and hardware; (iv) developing new physical theories to understand and explain the ... more
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