How does astronomy affect society?

Knowing our place in the Universe also affects our view of the world around us. Astronomical insights have shaped the way we think about ourselves.

For thousands of years, people saw the Earth as the centre of the Universe and humans as the pinnacle of creation. The 16th-century work of Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus changed all that. Since then, we have come to realise that we are a very recent species, living on an insignificant planet – cosmic newcomers in a remote corner of the Universe. Astronomy (as well as geology and evolutionary biology) has given us a completely different view of ourselves that has significantly altered the way we treat our planet, our fellow human beings and other lifeforms on planet Earth.

Long ago, people thought that the Earth was the centre of everything. But astronomers have discovered that we are just a tiny planet in a vast Universe. We’re not that important!