The Human Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time

Who are we?

Sitting more than 2,100 light years from Earth, the Little Beehive Cluster shines bright in the evening sky this week. Credit: NOAO
Sitting more than 2,100 light years from Earth, the Little Beehive Cluster shines brightly in the evening sky this week. Credit: NOAO

We all experience things differently, but we each witness wondrous things and gain knowledge about ourselves and the bigger universe we live in during our journey.

What does skywatcher or astronomer mean to you? People viewing the night sky and contemplating the meaning of the universe. We have created distinct categories that are listed below.

What kind of sky watcher or astronomer are you?

The professional

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The professional skywatcher or astronomer earns a significant portion of their income from working in astronomy. They either teach the science in college or university or do space science research on a daily basis. Modern researchers work in individual science specialties like archaeoastronomy and astrometry, or on teams of space scientists planning current and future space missions and designing and engineering the latest spacecraft. 

The amateur telescope maker and gadgeteer

Dale Keller's Amateur Telescope Making
Dale Keller’s Amateur Telescope Making

This breed of skywatcher once composed a large percentage of astronomy hobbyists. They build amazing telescopes from scratch, grind mirrors, and haul their spaceship-to-the-stars to local star parties. Hands-on amateurs and inventive innovators, many are first time users and adopters of new astronomy technology. The amateur telescope maker and gadgeteer enjoy looking at telescopes as much as through one.

The amateur specialist astronomer

These photographs may look like incredible shots taken from telescopes in space, but they were in fact captured by amateur astronomer in his back garden. Located millions of light years away from Earth, the star-studded patterns fill the night sky with array of colours, from purples and pinks to blues and oranges. Photographer Terry Hancock captured the images using a specialist astronomy camera attached to a telescope, from the comfort of his home in Fremont, Michigan. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2847259/Move-Hubble-Amateur-astronomer-takes-stunning-photos-colourful-galaxies-garden-Michigan.html#ixzz3do8JaPxc  Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
These photographs may look like incredible shots were taken from telescopes in space, but they were in fact captured by an amateur astronomer in his back garden.
Located millions of light years away from Earth, the star-studded patterns fill the night sky with an array of colors, from purples and pinks to blues and oranges.
Photographer Terry Hancock captured the images using a specialist astronomy camera attached to a telescope, from the comfort of his home in Fremont, Michigan.

Amateur specialist skywatchers love to observe variable stars, track satellites across the sky, and spend days, weeks and even months hunting for comets. They provide useful scientific data that contributes to our understanding of the universe and enables the human journey to the stars. 

The backyard skywatcher or astronomer

'Urban CCD Imaging: Capture the stars from your own backyard' a Skywatcher presentation by Peter Ward. '
‘Urban CCD Imaging: Capture the stars from your own backyard’ a Skywatcher presentation by Peter Ward. ‘

The backyard skywatcher thinks space is cool and many are quite knowledgeable concerning the latest astronomy news or book. They enjoy reading about space science and astronomy and a percentage own their own telescope.

The beginner skywatcher

The Skywatcher telescope is perfect as a first scope for people just joining the human journey to the beginning of space and time
The Skywatcher telescope is perfect as a first scope for people just joining the human journey to the beginning of space and time

The beginner can be of any age group and just joined the human journey to the beginning of space and time. They often come to the adventure with a relatively clean slate, so find everything exciting.

The astronomy photographer

A detail image of the Veil Nebula supernova remnant. Angular size about the same as full Moon
A detail image of the Veil Nebula supernova remnant. Angular size about the same as full Moon

Often a photographic artist of the highest ability, the astronomy photographer creates and shares astronomy photography techniques and stunning images of the cosmos. Having a vast array of astronomy photography skills and amazing patience, they often leave us sitting back and enjoying their work. 

The science fiction fanatic

It's easy to see the inspiration and clearly there was an interest from the top to see a shift in tone resulting in Stargate Universe.
It’s easy to see the inspiration and clearly, there was an interest from the top to see a shift in tone resulting in Stargate Universe.

The science fiction fanatic loves astronomy because of concepts like wormholes, folding space, multiverses, and tachyons. Constantly looking for a door to another dimension or the next universe, they’re more at home in Star Trek, than the real human journey to the stars.

The space travel and planet colonization advocate

Furthermore — and in my view mostly importantly — it advocates the building of a self-sufficient orbiting colony in which at least a portion of the human ...
Furthermore — and in my view most importantly — it advocates the building of a self-sufficient orbiting colony in which at least a portion of the human …

Often a romantic soul, the space travel, and planet colonization advocate can be a member of The Planetary Society and wants to colonize other worlds. They’re currently pushing for the colonization of Mars, traveling to nearby asteroids and the jovian moons, and actively push for funding for the human journey to the beginning of space and time.

The space nut or visionary

South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk, 40, ended up in the United States because, he says, it's where great things happen. Musk is gambling that his company, SpaceX, can change the world with its Falcon rockets and Dragon capsules by carrying cargo, and eventually people, to orbit. (Space X) Read more: http://www.airspacemag.com/space/is-spacex-changing-the-rocket-equation-132285884/#gYyRg6biy0KeghKU.99 Save 47% when you subscribe to Air & Space magazine http://bit.ly/NaSX4X Follow us: @AirSpaceMag on Twitter
South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk, 40, ended up in the United States because he says, it’s where great things happen. Musk is gambling that his company, SpaceX, can change the world with its Falcon rockets and Dragon capsules by carrying cargo, and eventually people, to orbit. (Space X)

The space nut or visionary sends in letters ‘disproving’ relativity or offering a brilliant alternative theory. Often they believe NASA is covering up an eminent and world-ending asteroid strike and provide detailed math and physics to back up their claims. Convinced they know something the rest of us don’t, some could be right.

The imprisoned skywatcher

Prisoners living in light polluted areas of the world don't get to see this hanging in the night sky.
Prisoners living in light polluted areas of the world don’t get to see this hanging in the night sky.

The imprisoned skywatcher has developed a deep curiosity about astronomy but lives in a light-polluted region of the world. They read all they can about space science and the human journey to the stars, but can’t enjoy the journey as they should.

The astronomy zealot

More than three centuries later, the quest for an understanding of the physical universe, from the fundamental properties of particles to the complexities of galaxies, remains at the heart of physics. However, the origin of gravity and a unified theory for all the known forces of the universe (i.e., gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong interactions of subatomic particles) remains elusive.
More than three centuries later, the quest for an understanding of the physical universe, from the fundamental properties of particles to the complexities of galaxies, remains at the heart of physics. However, the origin of gravity and a unified theory of all the known forces of the universe (i.e., gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong interactions of subatomic particles) remains elusive.

The astronomy zealot looks at the “Big Picture” and the most outrageous models of the human journey to the beginning of space and time. Throw them a string theory or multiverse hypothesis and they swallow it whole. They’re cerebral, speculative and open-minded to anything, and often prefer a novel possibility over hard fact.

The spouses and friends

Spouses get dragged to star parties and often become enthusiastic members of the human journey to the beginning of space and time.
Spouses get dragged to star parties and often become enthusiastic members of the human journey to the beginning of space and time.

Spouses get invited to attend star parties, astronomy talks, and sightseeing tours through the solar system and beyond. Only partly enjoying and understanding the process and events, they learn to enjoy these moments, or just put up with it.

The Star Followers

The wayfinder memorizes the position of stars on the celestial sphere in order to use them as directional clues when they rise and set. On cloudy nights, when only parts of the sky are visible, he may recognize isolated stars or star groups and imagine the rest of the celestial sphere around them.
The Wayfinder memorizes the position of stars on the celestial sphere in order to use them as directional clues when they rise and set. On cloudy nights, when only parts of the sky are visible, he may recognize isolated stars or star groups and imagine the rest of the celestial sphere around them.

Star navigators are mostly pilots, adventurers, and yachtsmen using the night sky to navigate the globe because they enjoy the hands on feeling of adventure in the ancient art of celestial navigation.

Following their passion and desire to explore, they’re the astronauts of the future, the true adventurers at the forefront of the human exploration of the solar system and beyond.

The enthusiastic human with no idea

The enthusiastic human with no idea about the human journey to the beginning of space and time is the majority of the human race. Unable to name or pinpoint the brightest star in the night sky, or the most common element in the universe, the cosmos just isn’t that interesting to them, so far. 

No matter what kind of sky watcher or astronomer you’re, the wonder and mystery of the cosmos can create a passion to answers questions deep within the heart.

Questions generations of sky watchers and astronomers spent thousands of years looking up into the night sky trying to answer. Answers we have designed and engineered amazing spacecraft and telescopes to find during the modern age of space travel and astronomy we live today.

Welcome to the human journey to the beginning of space and time!

Warren Wong

Editor and Chief

The human journey to the beginning of space and time

Read about the NExSS Coalition’s Search for Extraterrestrial Life.

Learn more about NASA’s search for ultra-light materials to help enable the human journey to Mars and beyond.

Learn how to calculate the orbit of asteroids in the Main Asteroid Belt.

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Did ancient farmers use the Phaitos Disk to determine when was the best time to plant and harvest crops?

Phaitos Disk: Ancient Astronomer’s Handiwork

Did ancient farmers use the Phaitos Disk to determine when was the best time to plant and harvest crops?
Some people think the Phaistos Disk could be an ancient farmers’ almanac listing seasonal changes used to determine the best times for planting and harvesting of crops

Minoan artifact could be ancient farmers’ almanac created by ancient astronomers

Kenneth had programmed the planetarium to show the night sky above Crete as it was 4,000 years ago
Kenneth had programmed the planetarium to show the night sky above Crete as it was 4,000 years ago

Ancient Astronomy –

Late one night around 1971, two men stood staring upward at a virtual representation of the star covered sky of ancient Crete. One was Leon Pomerance, an amateur astronomer with time and money on his hands. The other was Kenneth Franklin, an astronomer working at the American Museum’s Hayden Planetarium in New York City. On this night, Kenneth had programmed the planetarium to show the night sky above Crete as it was 4,000 years ago. Pomerance was astounded by what he saw because he recognized the sequence of constellations he saw above his head. He had seen this pattern of constellations on the ancient face of one of the most mysterious ancient artifacts ever found, the Phaistos Disk.

Phaistos Disk opens astronomers’ eyes

Found around 1908 by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier, the Phaistos Disk was recovered from the ruins of the City of Phaistos, a center of the Minoan culture that thrived in Crete about 3000 to 1100 BC
Found around 1908 by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier, the Phaistos Disk was recovered from the ruins of the City of Phaistos, a center of the Minoan culture that thrived in Crete about 3000 to 1100 BC

Found around 1908 by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier, the Phaistos Disk was recovered from the ruins of the City of Phaistos, a center of the Minoan culture that thrived in Crete about 3000 to 1100 BC. A terra-cotta disk six inches in diameter and inscribed with 45 different symbols of animals, people, and designs that repeat in different variations along a spiral band that coils to an end in the disk’s center, the Phaistos Disk is an enigma of history.

Inscribed by ancient astronomers

The designs on the disk include dot clusters, a bird, a bear, a serpentine figure and even a human head, but they’re totally different than the known hieroglyphic systems Minoans Linear A and B
The designs on the disk include dot clusters, a bird, a bear, a serpentine figure and even a human head, but they’re totally different than the known hieroglyphic systems Minoans Linear A and B

Were the figures on the disk inscribed by ancient astronomers? The designs on the disk include dot clusters, a bird, a bear, a serpentine figure and even a human head, but they’re totally different than the known hieroglyphic systems of the Minoan culture Linear A and B. The figures inscribed on the Phaistos Disk also appear to have been pressed into the clay surface with small instruments, like a form of ancient movable type. Could they be representations of constellations in the night sky thousands of years ago?

For some experts and archeologists, the Phaistos Disk is purely a linguistic puzzle, but these scientists have yet to translate the symbols on the disk’s surface. Different linguists translate the symbols differently and some say the symbols will never be translated because linguists can’t determine enough of the vocabulary with the information they have to work with.

Leon Pomerance believed the symbols on the Phaistos Disk were graphic symbols, like the glyphs on road signs they stood for things, not sounds. After studying the disk for years he believed the symbols were inscribed by ancient astronomers who had spent decades recording the passage of celestial bodies across the night sky.

Deciding to test his theory, he asked for the help of Kenneth Franklin at the Hayden Planetarium. One night, beneath the virtual sky of Crete in 2,000 BC, he and Franklin watched as the planetarium computer set the ancient night sky of Crete in motion. They watched as the constellations swiftly went through their progression 4,000 years ago. First Serpens Cauda, the Serpent’s Tail, came into view in what would have been late November, followed by Aquila the Eagle, which seemed to fly toward the west. Next, the seven-star Pleiades appeared in April, just before the Sun. Pomerance recognized this pattern of symbols as the same pattern inscribed on the clay surface of the Phaistos Disk.

What do scientists think?

He concluded it was probably an ancient almanac used by prehistoric farmers to list previous planting and harvesting times. This interpretation has been met with both skepticism and approval by archeologists and other experts. Today, possibly one of the earliest human records of seasonal changes in the night sky waits in the Heraklion Museum on Crete for confirmation of his belief. One day, an archeologist could find an artifact dredged from the Aegean or discovered in ancient Minoan ruins confirming this idea.

Watch this YouTube video on the Phaistos Disk here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQwW2RvP948.

Can NASA astronomers detect extraterrestrial moons orbiting distant suns? Read this article to find out https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/searching-for-extraterrestrial-moons/.

Read about the latest discovery in the search for life beyond Earth https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/the-search-for-life-beyond-earth-takes-a-turn-at-jupiter/.

Read about the latest images of the solar system sent back by the Cassini spacecraft https://spaceshipearth1.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/cassini-spacecraft-show-views-of-the-solar-system-in-natural-color/.