Getting the Measure of the Stars: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Getting the Measure of the Stars

1st Edition

By W.A. Cooper, E.N. Walker

CRC Press

293 pages

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Hardback: 9780852748305
pub: 1989-01-01
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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.


"… 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

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



Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Astrophysics & Space Science
SCIENCE / Physics