Language A - 9H
January 12, 2012
Finding the Milky Way
I often gaze into the night sky only to find bright lights and strange shapes I don’t understand. Starting at a young age, I enjoyed waiting for shooting stars and searching for the famous Big Dipper consolation as many nights as I could. As I grew older, I learned more and more about the universe and all that it contains. Today, I am even more intrigued by, not just the universe, but our very own Milky Way galaxy. I am amazed by its complicated systems and beautiful landscapes, but I still wanted to know how all of its magnificence was discovered.
From receiving several astronomical filed guides and photographic collections from family over the years, I already knew some information about the Milky Way. I knew it received its name from the “milky” light it sheds and that it consists of millions of stars. By observing pictures, I could tell most research about the galaxy was done using telescopes with cameras. I also concluded that the Sun is at the center of the galaxy, but that was just from my comprehension of the term “solar system”. In other words, I really did not know much about how the Milky Way was discovered, especially since telescopes and high quality technology has not been around forever.
The area of interaction that I believe ties to my research is Human Ingenuity. Human Ingenuity focuses on the evolution of process and human creations. How it is important to research the developments of humans throughout history and how those creations affect life and society. The processes made by astronomers to observe the Milky Way have affected human life tremendously, considering it’s where humans live. The steady research of the galaxy through time has led to even greater discoveries and information that humans never thought possible to obtain.
I want to know the exact progression of methods and research in discovering the Milky Way. From where the first astronomers got their ideas and plans to take on such a puzzling challenge, to how those methods have led to all the facts we know about the galaxy today. I want to learn about the instruments used to make these discoveries and the people behind them. I would like to be able to conduct a general timeline of the uncovering of the Milky Way. In addition, I find myself wondering why it is so important to study the Milky Way and other elements of outer space.
To learn so much information, I need to ask myself questions based on the research topic. Because I want to know how the Milky Way was discovered, I ask the main question, what methods and tools were and are used to observe the Milky Way? The Search
Originally, I began my search with the topic astronomical discoveries in mind. I navigated to my school’s library website to use the databases available there shown to me by the librarian. I typed the words astronomy discoveries in the Gale Power Search database, scrolled down reading the various article titles, then clicked on Cosmic Discoveries: The Wonder of Astronomy. As I began to read over the article, I did not understand the information. I soon realized the article was a very short book review for a book I did not have. I clicked back to my search results to find another article titled, 10 years ago in Astronomy. However, this too ended up being a book review. I left the Gale Power Search back to the library’s website to visit the database ProQuest where I searched astronomy discoveries once again. This time, I clicked an article titled Top 10 discoveries of the last 35 years, assuming it would be about discoveries in astronomy over the years. Starting to read the article, I came across a section that raved about the thousands of breakthroughs in astronomy in thirty-five years, the article only covering a ten. This section helped me realize that my topic was too broad to make of, so I decided to narrow my search topic to the direct history of the Milky Way galaxy....
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