How much astronomy does a human need?
Anyone who wants to understand and help shape our society, which is shaped by science and technology, increasingly needs to look beyond the earth. But in most federal states, students are hardly qualified to do so. What content of astronomy should be taught in general education schools? How and at what age should this happen?
In order to be able to answer the questions raised, it is first necessary to show the context in which astronomy stands in relation to the other disciplines, especially physics. For this reason, the relationship between these two sciences is first examined from the perspective of their historical development. Only then should it be about the content and organizational forms of school astronomy.
Physics and Astronomy
In early cultures, people had mythical ideas about nature. Experiments have not had the status they have had in modern science since Galileo (1564-1642). Knowledge came about primarily through direct observation of natural phenomena and the power of the human mind. Without the experimental method, knowledge of nature was generally more difficult. However, one area did well with just observing and thinking and was therefore able to develop better than all others: astronomy.
In Mesopotamia, around 1700 BC, the day was divided into 24 hours. The length of a year was known to within 4.5 minutes and the time from full moon to full moon to within a few seconds. The foundations of time determination, calendar calculation and astronavigation were created. Astronomy thus promoted spiritual, cultural, technological and economic development. Long before the beginning of our era, it became visible as a methodical process of objective knowledge acquisition, used mathematical methods and developed into the first natural science. In physics we find mathematics later, with Archimedes.
However, from today's point of view an unscientific task of astronomers also contributed to the success of astronomy: astrology, i.e. star interpretation. We learn from Plato what made people do this. He was convinced that the planets were gods, or at least indicators of divine will. Hence the belief that one can read the intentions of the gods from the position and movement of the planets and thus predict future earthly events. This view was not to the detriment of astronomy. Because this also resulted in comprehensive observation series, which were often carried out over centuries and produced valuable scientific knowledge …