History

The Antikythera mechanism.
The Antikythera mechanism, the first known
analogue computer used to predict
astronomical positions and eclipse.
Credit: Wikicommons user Marsyas

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You may think that astronomy, a science, and history are poles apart. In fact, many astronomers love history, and many historians are interested in space.  The quirk of astronomy is that we are all time travellers. We look back in time when we study objects in space. This is because it takes the light from those objects a very long time to reach us. The light from the closest star to Earth (after the Sun) takes over 4 years to reach us. The light from galaxies at the edge of the observable Universe takes about 14 billion years.

Astronomers learn skills which are useful to the field of history. For example, inventing ways to study images of space which can also be used to analyse priceless artworks. The communication skills used by astronomers, can help to tell people how astronomy has changed the world.

Perhaps you are more interested in history but like astronomy as a hobby? Well, there are careers looking at the history of astronomy, both ancient and modern.

If you love history and astronomy, then these jobs might interest you: Historian (Astronomy, Science or Cultural), Author, Museum Curator, Librarian, Archaeoastronomer, Conservationist, Anthropologist. Many people working in this field, work in both a physics and an arts department.

You can do qualifications in science history. Or you can do degrees in both physics and history, but it is not usually needed. Many people working in this field started as astronomers, then built on their passion for history without a formal qualification.

Learn about some scientists who are also historians:

Name Nationality Research Areas
Agnes Clerke

Irish

History of Astronomy, Biographies, Spectroscopy

British

History of Science, History of Astronomy, Broadcasting

Anthony Aveni

American

Archaeoastronomy, Ancient Astronomy in the Americas, Mayans

Chinese

Imaging and Sensing, Conservation, Science and Art

Jarita Holbrook

American

History, Cultural Studies of Astronomy, African Indigenous Astronomy