Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences. It has had, and will continue to have, a profound influence on how we humans view ourselves, has underpinned cultural development throughout the world, and yet it still has the fascination factor. We are intrigued by the possibility of life beyond the solar system, and today cutting-edge astronomy is revealing the nature of the universe in ways that could not have been dreamed of just a few years ago. Early recognized only five planets - Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn - the ones bright enough to show up easily to the naked eye. It wasn't until after the invention of telescopes in 1608 that Astronomers using it discovered three more planets: Uranus (1781), Neptune (1846), and Pluto (1930). (Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006.) The telescope was actually invented in the Netherlands, but the Italian mathematician and philosopher Galileo Galilei and Englishman Thomas Harriot, became the first people to view the night sky through telescopes exactly 400 years ago. That moment is now generally regarded as the birth of modern astronomy. What made planets special to our ancient ancestors was the fact that they change position, whereas the stars remain in fixed patterns. As we have been able to study the night sky with powerful telescopic equipment our eyes have been opened to wondrous planetary bodies and moons, and amazing cosmic sight such as asteroids, comets, galaxies and quasars.
Technical DetailsIssue Date: 28.05.2009
Designer: Mark Totty
Printer: Joh Enschede
Process: Offset Lithography
Colours: 4 Colours
Size: 36mm x 36mm
Values: 36p, 43p, 51p, 54p, 56p, 77p