For thousands of years, observing the night sky has been fundamental to human life and survival. The sky was a major symbol in the natural world of order and cyclic repetition. Studying the skies brought a sense of normalcy to people’s lives. Movement of the planets and stars helped farmers determine when to plant and harvest crops and guided ritual and religious observances. Interpretations of the celestial bodies varied widely among cultures, but often the sky was considered the abode of gods, a place humans could never touch.
Today we sometimes take the vast wealth of information on the night sky for granted or are amazed by the accomplishments of ancient astronomers. Our complacency or amazement results from our own night blindness, a symptom caused by our brightly lit and building-enclosed world. Even though we no longer need to track celestial events for our daily survival, we still enjoy gazing at the sky’s majestic beauty.

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