Why Astronomy is Considered the Oldest Science

Millions of years ago, ancient humans living on the African savanna likely gazed up in wonderment at the bright moon and star-filled sky. This cosmic backdrop wasn’t too different from the one we see today; but how they interacted with it almost assuredly was. It wasn’t until humans came to view the stars as tools that we became masters at understanding their movements.

By some 7,000 years ago, a group of nomadic people living on the African savanna became the first-known humans to record the motions of the stars at a site called Nabta Playa. This cattle-worshiping cult of hunters and gatherers built the world’s oldest stone circle to track the arrival of the summer solstice, as well as the seasonal monsoons they depended on for water and food.

“This was the dawn of observational astronomy,” J. McKim Malville, a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado and archaeoastronomy expert,

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From early astronomy to Star Trek, Baltimore museum explores the celestial fascination of Jewish scholars, artists

During the early years of the first “Star Trek” TV series, when a producer asked actor Leonard Nimoy to develop a sign of greeting for his character Spock to use, Nimoy flashed on a childhood memory.

What popped into his mind was a synagogue service in which several rabbis raised their hands, split their pinkie and ring fingers from their middle and index fingers to form a wide V, and started chanting in Hebrew.

And that’s how the Birkat Kohanim — a sign of Jewish blessing that dates to the time of Moses — inspired the “Vulcan salute,” the hand sign that became Spock’s signature and an icon of Western pop culture.

The story, first shared by Nimoy in his 1975 autobiography, “I Am Not Spock,” isn’t the only example of Judaism intersecting the universes of space study and science fiction. It’s a connection as old as the Torah, and

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New Technology Is a “Science Multiplier” for Astronomy

Federal funding of new technology is crucial for astronomy, according to results of a study released on September 21, 2020, in the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments and Systems.

The study tracked the long-term impact of early seed funding obtained from the National Science Foundation. Many of the key advances in astronomy over the past three decades benefited directly or indirectly from this early seed funding.

First Image of a Black Hole

The first image of a black hole by the the Event Horizon Telescope in 2019 was enabled in part b support for the NSF’s Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation program. Credit: EHT

Over the past 30 years, the NSF Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation program has supported astronomers to develop new ways to study the universe. Such devices may include cameras or other instruments as well as innovations in telescope design. The study traced the origins of some workhorse technologies in use today back to

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Study: New technology is a ‘science multiplier’ for astronomy

Federal funding of new technology is crucial for astronomy, according to results of a study released Sept. 21 in the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments and Systems.

The study tracked the long-term impact of early seed funding obtained from the National Science Foundation. Many of the key advances in astronomy over the past three decades benefited directly or indirectly from this early seed funding.

Over the past 30 years, the NSF Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation program has supported astronomers to develop new ways to study the universe. Such devices may include cameras or other instruments as well as innovations in telescope design. The study traced the origins of some workhorse technologies in use today back to their humble origins years or even decades ago in early grants from NSF. The study also explored the impact of technologies that are just now advancing the state-of-the-art.

The impact of technology and instrumentation

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New technology is a ‘science multiplier’ for astronomy

New technology is a "science multiplier" for astronomy
The first image of a black hole by the the Event Horizon Telescope in 2019 was enabled in part b support for the NSF’s Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation program. Credit: NASA

Federal funding of new technology is crucial for astronomy, according to results of a study released Sept. 21 in the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments and Systems.


The study tracked the long-term impact of early seed funding obtained from the National Science Foundation. Many of the key advances in astronomy over the past three decades benefited directly or indirectly from this early seed funding.

Over the past 30 years, the NSF Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation program has supported astronomers to develop new ways to study the universe. Such devices may include cameras or other instruments as well as innovations in telescope design. The study traced the origins of some workhorse technologies in use today back to their humble

Read More
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