How do we learn things in astronomy? Objects are usually too far away to investigate directly. Most are too far away to send spaceships. We observe by using spectroscopy and we develop scientific theories based on those observations. Then we predict what should happen and continue to observe.

Everything we know, we learn from studying the object’s spectra. We have tools that let us break the light down into different frequencies and use computers to analyze the data. The peak frequency tells us the temperature of the object. Dark lines tell us its composition and if lines are not at the expected frequencies, it tells about movement toward us. Line width tells us about turbulence, rotation and magnetic fields. Scientific theories cannot be proven. Many astronomers work for decades to try to disprove them.

The observatory’s public night is the first Friday of each month. Reservations and masks are required. humbleisd.net/observatory

Aaron Clevenson
Author: Aaron ClevensonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am the observatory director at the Insperity Observatory in Humble ISD. I am also an adjunct astronomy professor at Lone Star College-Montgomery where I teach solar system astronomy and stars and galaxies astronomy. I am the author of the astronomy textbook, “Astronomy for Mere Mortals.” I am a past president of the North Houston Astronomy Club, and was the chair of Astronomy Day in Southeast Texas in 2015 and 2016. He is an observing program director with The Astronomical League, coordinates their Master Observer Progression Awards, and has authored six of their observing programs.

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