Astronomy Made Simple
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Practical astronomy made simple
Showing Rating details. Sort order. Mar 26, Lisa Kucharski rated it it was amazing. I got this book because I knew I needed to start with a good basic intro to Astronomy and this was exactly what I needed. Besides giving a great basic history, it also covers telescopes and how technology improvements changed views of our universe. It covers the planets, the stars, our sun, and many phenomenon that has been observed.
My fave chapter was on chapter 10 which focused on the evolution of I got this book because I knew I needed to start with a good basic intro to Astronomy and this was exactly what I needed. My fave chapter was on chapter 10 which focused on the evolution of stars. Least fav was the telescopes cause, well I wanted to know about the out there in space stuff more.
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The nice last chapter focuses on what you can observe in the sky from earth, month by month. Special light-pollution filters can be used with your telescope to improve the visibility of celestial objects. Light-year The distance that light moving at about , miles per second travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles. Magnification power The amount that a telescope enlarges its subject.
Magnitude A number denoting the brightness of a star or other celestial object.
The higher the magnitude, the fainter the object. For example, a 1st-magnitude star is times brighter than a 6th-magnitude star. Meridian The imaginary north-south line that passes directly overhead through the zenith. Messier object An entry in a catalog of star clusters, nebulas, and galaxies compiled by French comet hunter Charles Messier mess-YAY between and The modern-day Messier catalog contains objects. Milky Way A broad, faintly glowing band stretching across the night sky, composed of billions of stars in our galaxy too faint to be seen individually.
Mount The device that supports your telescope, allows it to point to different parts of the sky, and lets you track objects as Earth rotates. Dark nebulas are not lit up and are visible only because they block the light of stars behind them. Occultation When the Moon or a planet passes directly in front of a more distant planet or star.
A grazing occultation occurs if the background body is never completely hidden from the observer. Opposition When a planet or asteroid is opposite the Sun in the sky.
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At such times the object is visible all night — rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. Parallax The apparent offset of a foreground object against the background when your perspective changes. At a given instant, the Moon appears among different stars for observers at widely separated locations on Earth.
Astronomers directly calculate the distance to a nearby star by measuring its incredibly small positional changes its parallax as Earth orbits the Sun. Phase The fraction of the Moon or other body that we see illuminated by sunlight. Planisphere Star Wheel A device that can be adjusted to show the appearance of the night sky for any time and date on a round star map.
Planispheres can be used to identify stars and constellations but not the planets, whose positions are always changing. Reflector A telescope that gathers light with a mirror. The Newtonian reflector, designed by Isaac Newton, has a small second mirror mounted diagonally near the front of the tube to divert the light sideways and out to your eye. Refractor A telescope that gathers light with a lens. Right Ascension R. Poor seeing makes objects waver or blur when viewed in a telescope at high magnification.
Solar Filter Material that allows safe viewing of the Sun by blocking nearly all of its light.
Proper filters should completely cover the front aperture of a telescope and should never be attached to the eyepiece; they range from glass used by welders to special plastic film. Solstice The two times each year, around June 20th and December 21st, when the Sun is farthest north or south in the sky. At the summer solstice, the day is longest and the night is shortest, and vice versa at the winter solstice. Star A massive ball of gas that generates prodigious amounts of energy including light from nuclear fusion in its hot, dense core. The Sun is a star.
Star Cluster A collection of stars orbiting a common center of mass. Open clusters typically contain a few hundred stars and may be only million years old or even less. Globular clusters may contain up to a million stars, and most are at least 10 billion years old almost as old as the universe itself. Star Diagonal A mirror or prism in an elbow-shaped housing that attaches to the focuser of a refractor or compound telescope. It lets you look horizontally into the eyepiece when the telescope is pointed directly overhead. Star Party A group of people who get together to view the night sky.
The existence of other galaxies was settled by Edwin Hubble , who identified the Andromeda nebula as a different galaxy. It was also Hubble who proved that the universe was expanding. There were many other galaxies at large distances and they are receding, moving away from our galaxy. That was completely unexpected. In , Karl Jansky discovered radio emission from outside the Earth when trying to isolate a source of noise in radio communications, marking the birth of radio astronomy and the first attempts at using another part of the electromagnetic spectrum to observe the sky.
Those parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that the atmosphere did not block were now opened up to astronomy, allowing more discoveries to be made. The opening of this new window on the Universe saw the discovery of entirely new things, for example pulsars , which sent regular pulses of radio waves out into space. The waves were first thought to be alien in origin because the pulses were so regular that it implied an artificial source.
The period after World War 2 saw more observatories where large and accurate telescopes are built and operated at good observing sites, normally by governments.
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For example, Bernard Lovell began radio astronomy at Jodrell Bank using leftover military radar equipment. By , the site had the largest steerable radio telescope in the world. Similarly, the end of the s saw the start of the building of dedicated observatories at Mauna Kea in Hawaii , a good site for visible and infra-red telescopes thanks to its high altitude and clear skies. The next great revolution in astronomy was thanks to the birth of rocketry.
This allowed telescopes to be placed in space on satellites. Space telescopes gave access, for the first time in history, to the entire electromagnetic spectrum including rays that had been blocked by the atmosphere. The X-rays , gamma rays , ultraviolet light and parts of the infra-red spectrum were all opened to astronomy as observing telescopes were launched.
As with other parts of the spectrum, new discoveries were made. From s satellites were launched to be replaced with more accurate and better satellites, causing the sky to be mapped in nearly all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Discoveries broadly come in two types: bodies and phenomena. Bodies are things in the Universe, whether it is a planet like our Earth or a galaxy like our Milky Way.
Phenomena are events and happenings in the Universe. For convenience, this section has been divided by where these astronomical bodies may be found: those found around stars are solar bodies, those inside galaxies are galactic bodies and everything else larger are cosmic bodies. Burst events are those where there is a sudden change in the heavens that disappears quickly. These are called bursts because they are normally associated with large explosions producing a "burst" of energy.
They include:. Periodic events are those that happen regularly in a repetitive way. The name periodic comes from period, which is the length of time required for a wave to complete one cycle. Periodic phenomena include:. Noise phenomena tend to relate to things that happened a long time ago. The signal from these events bounce around the Universe until it seems to come from everywhere and varies little in intensity. In this way, it resembles "noise", the background signal that pervades every instrument used for astronomy.
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The most common example of noise is static seen on analogue televisions. The principal astronomical example is: Cosmic background radiation. There are way astronomers can get better pictures of the heavens.