Getting the Measure of the Stars  book cover
1st Edition

Getting the Measure of the Stars

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ISBN 9780852748305
Published January 1, 1989 by CRC Press
306 Pages

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Book Description

Many years ago amateur astronomers made observations of equal quality to professionals and hence could participate in the intellectual challenge of advancing our knowledge of the universe. Throughout most of this century, however, the cost and complexity of telescopes and instruments have generally precluded their contribution. With the advent of home computers and relatively cheap electronics, the pendulum has swung back and the time is now ripe for amateurs to join their professional colleagues in the excitement of discovery.

Getting the Measure of the Stars bridges the gap between dedicated amateurs and fully fledged professionals, both who seek to understand the nature and evolution of the stars. In terms accessible to the layperson, the first part explains how and why some stars have varying brightness, and what this variation can tell us about their physics and structure. The authors go on to discuss how to make brightness measurements, either by the unaided eye or by using photoelectric photometers. The book also discusses the accuracies of various methods and the limitations on projects. The final section describes possible projects, the observations required, and what these would do to enhance our understanding of the stars and the solar system. Incorporating a great deal of theoretical and observational expertise, this book is a vital source of reference for those wishing to maximize their enjoyment from the use of small telescopes.

Table of Contents

Foreword by P. Moore and D. Stickland

Physics at All Sizes
Looking at the Stars
The structure of Stars-A First Look at Models
Evolving Stars
Radiation-A Pause for Reflection
Pulsating Stars
Cataclysmic and Eruptive Variables
Minor Planets

Photometers and Photometry
Use of Data

Projects: Introduction
The Brightest Stars
Stars along the Instability Strip
Variability in Binaries
Minor Planets and Comets
Two More Challenging Projects

Reduction Procedures
Cost and Types of Equipment
Conceptual Diagram of Variable Star Astrophysics
Lists of Stars Suitable for Projects
Further Reading
Julian Dates
Summary Table of Variable Star Characteristics
Values of Constants


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"… excellent book is aimed at those who are contemplating becoming amateur astronomers (including 'armchair' astronomers who make use of home computers). But it will also prove absorbing reading for those who already are amateur astronomers."
-Newsletter of the Association for Astronomy Education

"A large number of projects are described which are within the capabilities of many amateurs. These include measurements on bright stars, stars in the 'instability strip', and binary variables. There are nine appendices, a glossary, and a good index. There is the minimum of mathematics, only one photograph (quite justified as there are so many other books for this purpose), and not far short of one diagram per page. I thoroughly recommend this book to all would be amateur astronomers and others who enjoy a good read."
-Newsletter of the Association for Astronomy Education