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Where is a good place to stargaze in my area?

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Astronomy is the physical science which studies celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena such as cosmic background radiation, which originate outside the Earth's atmosphere. It also concerns itself with the formation and development of the universe, its evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion. Although they only share a common origin, astronomy should not be confused with astrology, or the belief system that claims that human affairs are correlated with the positions of celestial objects. Because astronomers of early civilizations performed methodical observations of the night sky, and because astronomical artifacts have been found from much earlier periods, astronomy is considered to be one of the oldest sciences. However, it was not until the invention of the telescope that the science was truly able to develop. Astronomy includes a diverse variety of disciplines, including astrometry, celestial navigation, and observational astronomy.

It is one of the few sciences in which amateurs are still able to play an active role, and many important contributions and astronomical discoveries have also been made by amateur astronomers. Professional astronomy is often considered to be synonymous with astrophysics, and is split into observational astronomy, which focuses on the acquisition and analysis of data (mainly using basic principles of physics), and theoretical astronomy, which leans toward the development of models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. Given that theoretical astronomy seeks to explain the results of observations, and observations are used to confirm theories, the two fields are highly complementary.

The importance of Astronomy in the scientific community has been recognized every year since 1973 by celebrating Astronomy Day. On Astronomy Day, local astronomical societies, planetariums, museums, and observatories sponsor a number of public activities to increase awareness about astronomy. It was celebrated twice in 2009 as part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA), a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture. Although the IYA is sponsored by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is one of many government agencies and other organizationsparticipating in IYA events around the world.

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By the USA.gov team

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