Astronomy is the first science. Men named bright patterns of stars and followed the courses of the moon and planets long before there were farms or cities. The great bear which prowls around the pole
of the heavens was known to the ancient peoples of Europe, Asia and North America. Markings made by paleolithic man on bones were
interpreted as decorations until Marshack¹ used a microscope to show that adjacent scratches were often made by different tools, as when one picks a convenient sharp stone to make a tally. He interpreted the sequences of scratches as counts of days between successive lunations. Two and a quarter months on the first bone in the first cabinet and six months of record on the second bone. Two records kept by individuals separated by a few miles of space and several thousand years of time, from a period some 32,000 years before the present.
After the invention of reading, what could previously only be private cyphers were standardized and expanded. Written records were made.
Some of which survive are of astronomical interest. We know that the specialist was expected to predict eclipses and planetary alignments.
Scientific progress beyond this required two revolutions. It was necessary to abandon preconceived notions about the perfection of the heavens. Uniform motion in circles, for example, (Kepler). And then to invent instruments with which to make observations impossible with the unaided eye, (telescope, Galileo).
We now know that the objects we see in the heavens are a part of the same natural world we see around us on earth. Stars and nebulae, planets and moons are made of the same materials we find here. The physical state may be different, (temperature, pressure) and the proportions of the various chemical elements somewhat different. That is all.
Obtaining our present insight into the nature of the cosmos is the work of many minds employing tools and theories from all areas of physical science.
¹Marshack, Alexander The Roots of Civilization McGraw-Hill 1972 Chapter V.