How important is Astronomy?

Well I’ve always been fascinated by the Universe. Since I was a kid I read a lot about planets, stars, etc. I find it kinda sad that most people don’t think about the Universe oftenly. To them, the Universe is just a bidimensional image in the night sky.

So I’ve been wondering… how important is astronomy? I know that an astronomer can’t make you have a more comftable life (most of what he does is for knowlegde and curiosity) but I still think that it is an amazing profession. When you think about it, most of what exists is out there. It is not here on Earth! So he studies the most common stuff in existence.

What do you think?
(Btw, hi, I’m new to the forums. I’m 18 M from Brazil).

Moderator Action

Welcome to the SDMB, Yellow Kazooie.

The General Questions forum is for questions with factual answers. Since this seeks opinions, it is more suited to our In My Humble Opinion forum. You don’t need to do anything. I will move the thread for you.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.

Well astronomers - besides answering (and asking important questions) - they are responsible for some important practical advances/needs:

  1. First line of defense against a meteor(oid/ite) [cant remember which one! but should get partial credit for knowing they are different] hitting the earth. Might not seem real important now, but someday it will be.

  2. Advances in optics - one that I can think of off hand is the miniaturization of video cameras needed for the Apollo missions. I’m positive there are other examples and things that we have done for the stars (like stacking) has been applied for earth based photography as well (HDR - well kinda related). Not sure which one came first, but I’m sure that at least some of the advances came from astronomers.

  3. If we had an empty canvas for a sky - why would have inspired those that went before us to come up with many questions and answers. I think we’d be a dumber people without astronomy.

  4. Kinda related, but it helps to inspire kids to go into science.

Navigation is the big everyday important one; the origin of everything is the BIG one.

I think it is fair to say astronomy is astronomically important.

oh btw they put satellites in orbit, which are very useful. However, a physicist could do that, you don’t need a degree in astronomy as far as I know.

Not for putting satellites in orbit around the Earth, but for missions to the Moon, to other planets, or to asteroids and comets, you need to know where they are (or rather where they will be, when you get there). Astronomers to the rescue!

Seeing how the calendar was developed from astronomy, and how important the calendar is to farming and the food supply, I’d say astronomy has made life more comfortable on a fundamental level.

Ok, but is there any benefit society will get with a man on another planet? When we went to the moon, I believe we did it because it was a challenge, not because someone had to do something there.

You may say it was useful because we studied the moon. Ok, ok. So what? A spacecraft or a rover could do the same. Also, there isn’t a good reason to study the moon. It is out there, minding its own business.

That’s a shame, I know. I totally support space exploration, but only if a nation is developed enough to do so. Here in Brazil, for example, there are other priorities. We can’t just spend trucks of money to land a rover on mars.

Yes, we’ll get the benefit of having people on other planets.

In the grand scheme of things? It IS the grand scheme of things!

I personally find the idea of having people on Mars amazing. I’m sure many people do too.

I was imagining a reality show on Mars. That would be cool. This is a benefit society would get; they would get some fun entertainment. Now that’s something.

Unfortunately I don’t think that’s gonna happen in a near future. People overall still think space exploration is a waste of money, and they are right to a certain degree. There are other priorites.

Knowing someone else is doing something cool is of marginal utility.

Knowing someone else is doing something cool with your tax money is worse

Considering that pretty much every significant ancient culture spent a lot of time observing the heavens, I’d say it is of considerable importance.

Astronomy has led to the discovery of the existence of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Currently our understanding of them is limited to not much more than they do seem to exist and they are somehow different to the rest of the stuff we already knew about. If we ever figure out just what these mysterious things actually are it is likely to add to our fundamental knowledge of the nature of just about everything. Who knows where that could lead.

Its not. Or at least, it isn’t really important for any reason outside whatever intrinsic value people find in it.

But people have been pursuing it for three-thousand years, and currently Democratic gov’t continually vote to put billions of dollars into furthering its study. So I’d say that intrinsic value is pretty high for a sizable number of people.

How do you feel about the World Cup, followed two years later by a Summer Olympics?

Well, a lot of early societies used astronomy to know what time of year to plant and harvest crops.

Well, what can I say. We are literally rioting against the world cup. June 2013 is when the protests begun. Millions of people went to the streets. You may have heard about it in the news.

Well, that is not a reason. Most people live without knowing what dark energy and dark matter is and they still live a good comftable life.