Essay on historical importance of stars

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Essay on historical importance of stars

Guided By the Stars

Abstract

Despite the difference in their compositions, stars have immense importance. Notwithstanding, this argument can only be authenticated by outlining the specific ways through which people use stars that made them prominent. This paper explored existing research and literature on stars, their definition, origin, importance, use and implications on guiding humans. Some of the ways people use stars found in this research include navigation, creation of calendars essential to determining seasons for purposes of planting crops and harvesting, space studies and exploration and oral tradition. The implications emanating from this research on stars guiding people are evident through people learning how to use stars for navigation, understanding themselves and other people based on astrological signs and having closer relationships with other people, religion and the environment.

Keywords: stars, astronomy, astrology, skies, navigation, movement

Introduction

Throughout history, humans have looked at the stars to decide when to plant crops, to navigate the vast oceans and to seek answers to questions about where they came from and how they got to earth. This is because astronomy is a discipline that gives context to the place of humans in the universe and can influence how people view the world. Ancient cultures associated celestial objects with deities and perceived movements of stars across the sky as symbols of prophesy. As our understanding of the world progresses, our existence and views about the world look more and more entwined with the stars in the skies. For instance, the scientific discovery that the essential elements found in stars, as well as, the dust and gas around them are the same elements that make up the human body further accentuated the connection between people and the cosmos (Rosenberg and Russo, 2013). This vital connection not only touches people’s lives but also influences their decisions on matters regarding navigation, study of people’s origin, religion and agriculture among others throughout history. The world we live in faces many immediate problems such as poverty, global warming and hunger. Moreover, the same world has many unanswered astronomical questions, for instance, what is the fate of the universe, how old is life existence and how unique is the universe? Rosenberg and Russo (2013) argue that astronomy has long-term benefits that are equally vital to a civilized society as they have been through history. As such, stars can provide some solutions to the questions and problems that this world faces through focus on their use and benefits on people and the universe as a whole.

Definition, origin and types of stars Essay on historical importance of stars

A star can be referred to as a luminous ball of gas that is mostly composed of helium and hydrogen and is held together by its own gravity (Temming, 2014). The nuclear fusion reactions in the cores of the stars espouse the stars against gravity and produce heat and photons, as well as, meager amounts of heavier elements. The closest star to the earth is the sun. Temming (2014) is of the opinion that based on the star formation theory, stars originate from clumps within massive gas cloud that collapse in on themselves. The material of the clouds then heats up as it falls inward or collapses in itself under the force of gravity. When the gas attains a temperature of approximately 10 million K, the hydrogen nuclei start to fuse into helium nuclei to form the stars (Temming, 2014). Once the star is formulated, the energy from nuclear fusion radiates outward from the center of the growing star and moderately brings to an end the collapsing of the gas cloud process.

Difference in stars comes about as a result of difference in temperature. For instance, the color of a star depends on its temperature. Based on this understanding, the cooler stars produce redder light and the hotter stars emit bluer light. It is vital to note the temperature of stars is correlated to mass in that red dwarf stars have a visible surface temperature of less than 4,000 K and as a little as 0.075 solar mass (Temming, 2014). According to Temming (2014), the largest star is known as R136a1. It is a Wolf-Rayet star that is 265 times the mass of the sun and has a visible surface temperature of approximately 50,000 K. In as much as massive stars are grand in their existence, they tend to exhaust their energy supply in a few million years, unlike smaller and cool red dwarf stars that can retain their energy supply and keep on burning for many billions of years (Temming, 2014). Despite the difference in their compositions, stars have immense importance.

Importance of stars through history-essay on historical importance of stars

Stars have always been important. This is because throughout history, navigators utilized stars to travel at the sea and over land at night and stars also played a part in religious ceremonies (Cain, 2009). According to Cain (2009), ancient astronomers categorized the stars into constellations and utilized them to track the movement of the sun and other planets. As a result, astronomers were able to formulate accurate calendars based on the motions of the stars over the course of the full year which they used to determine their planting and harvesting seasons. However, how did the people gain interest in stars and realize their importance in various fields such as navigation and agriculture?

Cain (2009) sheds light on this matter by stating that in 1584, Giordana Bruno devised the concept or idea that stars were objects like the sun, only that they were further away from the earth. Based on this concept, astronomers gained immense interest in stars and began measuring alterations in the luminosity of stars, that is, the intensity of the colors they emit and the motion of the nearby stars since they had changed their positions or locations in the skies since the time they were first measured by ancient Greek astronomers Hipparchus and Ptolemy (Cain, 2009). The field astronomy has made major strides since 1584 as evident in the first measurement of distance to star in 1838 by Friedrich using the parallax technique and the use of photography in the 20th century to image stars (Cain, 2009). Moreover, astronomers have developed techniques to assess the spectra of light emitted by the stars. Salient technological developments and theoretical advances in Physics have also helped provide viable and evidence-based explanations regarding the discordant colors emitted by the stars and how this difference matched their temperature and luminosity.essay on historical importance of stars

Based on extensive research in the field of astronomy, it has been determined that the Milky Way galaxy has between two hundred and four hundred billion stars and that there could be close to five hundred billion galaxies in the universe with just as many stars as in the Milky Way if not more (Cain, 2009). Stars may seem distant from the earth, but they have influenced many beliefs and activities of people. For instance, various religions highlight the importance of stars such as the Midnight star that the three wise men followed to help them in their navigation to the birthplace of Jesus in the Holy Writ. When stars were not influencing religious beliefs, they were being used by sailors at sea and travelers on land for navigation purposes. Various cultures also base their traditions on stars which helped them determine personality type in what is referred to as today as astrology. Thus, the importance of stars through history is evident. However, this argument can only be validated by outlining the specific ways through which people utilized the stars that made stars be prominent to them.

How humans use the stars-essay on historical importance of stars

How Ancient People Utilized the Stars

Before ancient people used the stars and planets to navigate and determine when to plant and harvest crops, they grouped the stars into constellations and named them. Most of these named constellations are still in use today and used by different astronomers and cultures to tell tales about deities, mythological creatures and heroes represented in the stars. For instance, constellations such as Perseus and Cetus are still used to tell stories about heroes and gods. Apart from the entertainment factor of these anecdotes, they helped ancient story tellers preserve their cultures, teach both young and old people and instill moral values into the citizens (Ackendorf, 2018).

One of the significant uses of the stars by ancient people that Ackendorf (2018) points out was in oral traditions, for instance, around 700 BC, the poet Hesiod was the first to offer a mythology of the cosmos to the Greeks. The tale shared the secret of the journey of the universe from its primitive void of nothingness to the big bang theory using the stars by detailing a genealogy of gods, elements, mythical creatures and goddesses (Ackendorf, 2018). Artists and writers built on this cosmological mythology centuries later by creating heroes such as Cetus, Perseus and Andromeda who can still be found in the skies. Ancient people also utilized the stars to predict the future. Ackendorf (2018) states that astrological signs were created by some of the earliest astronomers on earth. Most ancient civilizations believed that following the movements of the stars could help them predict the future and as such, determine the course that an individual’s life would take. These beliefs resulted in the creation of most astrological signs that are still used today (Ackendorf, 2018).

Observations of changes in the moon and sun also played a major role in the development of calendars by astronomers. As early as 5,000 years ago, astronomers took note of the patterns of the rising and setting of the sun, as well as, the position of the moon so as to determine the beginning and end of days and seasons (Ackendorf, 2018). Moreover, astronomers constructed henges and shrines that they used to tell vital astrological moments such as summer and winter solstices or the fall and spring equinoxes (Ackendorf, 2018). As Ackendorf (2018) empathizes, determining these seasons based on the patterns of the sun and positions of the moon not only helped astronomers create calendars but also helped the people know when to plant crops following frosts and when to harvest the developed crops before the onset of winter.

Perhaps the most predominant way that ancient people utilized stars was in navigation. Travelers on land and sailors at sea used stars to help guide their journeys. While Phoenicians observed the movement of the sun to tell them their direction, early astronomers came to the realization that certain constellations, for instance, the Big Dipper was only visible form the northern part of the sky (Ackendorf, 2018). As such, the location of the North Star or Polaris helped travelers tell the direction they needed to follow to reach their destinations. This point is reiterated by Joe (2010) who states that when people navigate using the stars, all they need to do is find a star that is directly above the place they need to go and it will point them in the right direction. However, since most stars move, it is vital to find a star that does not move such as Polaris. In order to find Polaris, people can find the Plough or Big Dipper first, then find the “pointer stars.” As Joe (2010) asserts, Polaris will always be five times the distance between the two pointers in the direction that they point. Under Polaris lies the true north which navigators can then use to plot the direction of their destinations.

Use of stars in the modern world-essay on historical importance of stars

According to Rao (2008), in today’s contemporary world, commercial and private aircrafts depend on an intricate network of satellite, inertial, radio and other navigation systems to determine the direction of their destinations. However, should any of these systems, the stars can be used to guide the aircrafts. Rao (2008) reiterates the point put forward by the late Henry Neeley, a renowned lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium in the 1950s that “the navigational use of stars will continue to be a valuable asset for numerous years to come.” As such, celestial navigation still constitutes a critical part of a navigator’s formal training, be it sailors of boats and ships at sea or pilots of aircrafts.

Stars are quite vital to modern space and aeronautical studies and explorations. Scientists study the movement of stars and planets to determine their impact on space travel, as well as, the possibility of life on other planets. However, the most common utilization known to many in the modern world is in astrology. Through astrological signs based on the positions of the sun and the moon when people were born, astrologists can get astrological readings that influence the demeanors and feelings of individuals based on their astrological signs.

Implications of stars in terms of guiding people

Stars are influential in guiding people, be it physically or mentally. With regard to stars providing mental guidance to people, stars do not imprison individuals within an absurd network of good or bad luck. There are various ways through which stars reach out to people and guide them mentally, for instance, through the birth of a child, meeting a person, as well as, the pain of losing a person or separation. Astrological signs already provide valuable information about people’s characters, beliefs, skills and preferences that most individuals find accurate. However, this information on people based on their astrological signs can only guide them mentally and influence their decisions to the extent that they allow them. In other words, it is based on the perception of people and not non-refutable facts. Evidence of use of stars in various religions also guides people’s spiritual steps or decisions. When people see how stars were influential in their religious books, they are more inclined to let stars guide their mental perceptions and actions in the real world.

On other hand, the influence of stars in guiding people physically is based on facts that people can learn in navigation. For instance, if a person is lost or seeking directions, he or she can determine which way to follow based on the direction of the true north. By finding the Big Dipper or Cassiopeia constellation, a person can determine the location of the Polaris or the North Star and plot his or her way to the preferred destination based on the true north.

Conclusion-essay on historical importance of stars

Stars have always been important and influential. Throughout history navigators used stars to travel at the sea and over land at night and stars also played a role in religious ceremonies. Artists and writers built on cosmological mythology based on stars by creating heroes such as Cetus, Perseus and Andromeda still present in the skies. Observations of changes in the moon and sun also played a major role in the development of calendars by astronomers with henges and shrines providing information on important astrological moments such as summer and winter solstices or the fall and spring equinoxes. Thus, people knew when to plant and when to harvest based on the stars. Stars are utilized in the modern world for navigations, space and aeronautical studies and explorations and for astrological readings. The implication stars in guiding people is evident in how people can learn how to use stars for navigation, understand oneself and other people based on astrological signs and have a closer relationship with other people, religion and the environment based on the knowledge provided by stars. Thus, stars can provide certain solutions to the questions and problems that this world faces.

Works Cited

Ackendorf, J. (2018). How Did Ancient People Use the Stars and Planets?. Sciencing.com. Retrieved 26 February 2018, from https://sciencing.com/did-people-use-stars-planets-8675019.html

Cain, F. (2009). History of Stars – Universe Today. Universe Today. Retrieved 26 February 2018, from https://www.universetoday.com/25156/history-of-stars/

Rao, J. (2008). Navigating by the Stars. Space.com. Retrieved 26 February 2018, from https://www.space.com/5849-navigating-stars.html

Rosenberg, M., & Russo, P. (2013). Why is Astronomy Important?. Retrieved from https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1311/1311.0508.pdf

Temming, M. (2014). What Is a Star? | Types of Stars – Sky & Telescope. Sky & Telescope. Retrieved 26 February 2018, from http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/what-is-a-star/

Tristan. (2017). Find your way using the Stars | The Natural Navigator. Naturalnavigator.com. Retrieved 26 February 2018, from https://www.naturalnavigator.com/find-your-way-using/stars