Earth Science and Astronomy is the study of the Earth, its atmosphere, and all of its neighbours in space. Because of the spherical shape of the Earth, the various categories of Earth sciences can be subdivided into the various ‘spheres’ that make up the planet. There are generally four main ‘spheres’ recognized with the study of the Earth: the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, and the biosphere, corresponding to rocks, water, air, and life.
Earth Science is not so much one particular science as it is several sciences combined as one. Earth sciences are often categorized by the many different sciences that are used to learn about the earth. Some of the main areas of Earth science study are: geology, meteorology, environmental sciences, astronomy and oceanography.
Geology means ‘study of the Earth’ and is considered to be the main earth science. Geology is all about the composition of Earth materials, structures and the Earth’s processes. Meteorology and environmental sciences is the study of the Earth’s atmosphere and how it determines the Earth’s weather and climate. Almost everyone is concerned about the weather, making meteorology a very practical and fun science. Astronomy is the study of our moon, sun and the planets in our solar system and even includes solar systems outside of our own. Studying space beyond the Earth is important because many of these neighbouring heavenly bodies have a direct influence on our Earth such as the moon that drives the ocean’s tidal system and energy from the sun controls our weather and climates. Oceanography is the comprehensive study of Earth’s oceans, but is not included in this article.
Earth science is one of the major branches or sections of scientific study. Science can be real simple and is actually only about understanding the world you live in. However, no one scientist can study every aspect of this world we live in and the many different areas of science that exists can make it all a bit overwhelming if it is not grouped into related categories. Categories, such as earth science, allow scientists to focus on a set of similar topics and interact with others who are interested in the same questions and can make science much easier to understand.
Earth science can be separated into various sub-branches such as: Astronomy & Geology to Gravity and Meteorology amongst others. Each sub-branch in turn may contain even more specific fields of study. Understanding the Earth and all the planetary bodies around it has been a preoccupation of scientists and philosophers for thousands of years. An understanding and appreciation of the processes that govern the Earth is essential to a responsible life on this planet. Earth scientists can use their knowledge of the Earth to find energy and mineral resources; study the impact of human activity on the Earth or study natural events such as volcanoes, earthquakes and hurricanes. Perhaps because the study of the Earth is usually about things that are readily observable, most people find Earth science subjects relatively easy to grasp, practical and very enjoyable!