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Learn English: Words related to the study of the sky and space

Person staring at starry night sky under a curved rock formation
Kirsten describes astronomy as "the study of things in space and how space works."

Pixabay CC: Skeeze

Do you know the difference between 'astronomy' and 'astrology'? Have you ever visited 'an observatory'? Let's learn about words related to the study of the sky and space!

Kirsten Banks, an astronomy educator and physics student, explains the meaning of words that we can use to talk about space.

Astronomy or astrology?

'Astronomy' and 'astrology' look very similar but there is an important difference between the two.

Kirsten Banks, astronomy educator at the Sydney Observatory, standing next to a telescope
In this lesson, Kirsten Banks, astronomy educator at the Sydney Observatory, describes the meaning of words related to space.

ABC News: Lisa Clarke

"When we look up into the sky, how do things move? What makes them move? And what are things made of in space? In the simplest way, astronomy is about looking at the sky and how things work," Kirsten says.

"Astrology is the belief that position of the sun and the planets and the moon in the sky play some sort of role on one's personality."


Kirsten is studying physics at university and has started learning about astrophysics.

"Astrophysics is a branch of physics. Physics is a more general term of everything and anything. We could talk about the physics of the sky, the physics of the earth or the physics of sitting on this chair. Physics is the tree trunk and astrophysics is a branch of that," says Kirsten.

A constellation

The Australian flag
The constellation of five stars on the right hand side of the Australian flag are known as the 'Southern Cross'.

One of the most well known constellations in Australia, the Southern Cross, is featured on the national flag.

"The Southern Cross is a constellation of four stars. When connected together, they form a cross shape. In western astronomy, it's known as a constellation crux... It's viewable from all Australia."

An observatory

Kirsten is an educator and tour guide at the Sydney Observatory. The Observatory has telescopes through which you can view the moon and planets at different times of the day.

The exterior wall and roof of Sydney Observatory with tree branches on either side
Sydney Observatory was built in 1858 and is a significant historic site near Sydney Harbour.

ABC News: Lisa Clarke

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