General Astronomy

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Astronomy is the scientific study of the universe as a whole, and of celestial bodies and the underlying physics governing those bodies. It is, in a sense, one of the oldest of the natural sciences, having been practiced by even very ancient civilizations, but it is also among the most modernized of the sciences, having extensively exploited advances in technology. The progress of technology has dramatically improved our understanding of the universe, and revealed a richer tapestry than had ever been imagined. This Wikibook introduces the advanced secondary or beginning university student to that tapestry and the process that revealed it to humanity. It presents astronomy not only as a field of knowledge, but also as a human endeavor in science.

Table of Contents[edit]

NGC 4414 (NASA-med).jpg
  1. The Modern View of the Cosmos
    1. The Big Picture
    2. Short History of the Universe
    3. Scientific Notation
    4. The Scientific Method
    5. What People do in Astronomy
    6. Current Unsolved Mysteries
  2. Observational Astronomy
    1. The Celestial Sphere
    2. Coordinate Systems
    3. Phases of the Moon
    4. Eclipses
    5. Daily Motions
    6. Yearly Motions
  3. Motion and Gravity
    1. The Early Origins of Astronomy
    2. The First Physics (Aristotle)
    3. Difficulties in the Geocentric Model
    4. The Heliocentric Model (Copernicus)
    5. New Ideas About Motion (Galileo)
    6. Order in Planetary Orbits
  4. Principles of Light
    1. What is Light?
    2. The Spectrum
    3. Basic Astrophysics
    4. Atomic Emission and Absorption
    5. Molecular Emission and Absorption
    6. Thermal Radiation
    7. The Doppler Effect
  5. Telescopes
    1. Basic Optics
    2. Optical Telescopes
    3. Telescopes of Other Wavelengths
    4. Neutrino Telescopes
    5. Gravitational Wave Telescopes
    6. Other Observations
  6. Planetary science
    1. The Terrestrial Planets
    2. The Jovian Planets
    3. Planetary Moons
    4. Comets
    5. Asteroids
    6. Meteors and Meteorites
    7. The Kuiper Belt
    8. Extrasolar Planets
    9. Formation of the Solar System
  7. Earth as a Planet
    1. Earth's Early Years
    2. Formation of the Moon
    3. The Biosphere
    4. The Atmosphere
    5. The Water Cycle
    6. Earth
    7. Earth's Moon
  8. Space Exploration
    1. First Steps into Space
    2. The Apollo Missions
    3. Pioneers and Voyagers
    4. The Great Observatories
    5. Major Future Missions
  9. Astrobiology and Extraterrestrial Life
    1. The Drake Equation
    2. Organic Chemistry for Astronomy
    3. Life in the Solar System
    4. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
  10. The Sun
    1. Fusion in the Sun
    2. Convective and Radiative Zones
    3. The Photosphere
    4. Solar Activity
    5. Space Weather
    6. Helioseismology
    7. The Solar Cycle
  11. Stars
    1. Mass
    2. Luminosity
    3. Temperature
    4. The H-R Diagram
    5. Star Clusters as Cosmic Laboratories
  12. The Stellar Life Cycle
    1. Protostars and Stellar Nurseries
    2. The Life of Low Mass Stars
    3. The Death of Low Mass Stars
    4. The Life of High Mass Stars
    5. The Death of High Mass Stars
  13. Black Holes
    1. Life of the Black Hole
    2. Black Holes in Hiding
    3. History of the Black Hole
    4. The Theory of the Naked Singularity
    5. Spaghettification
    6. Black Holes/Hawking Radiation
  14. Galaxies
    1. The Milky Way
    2. Types of Galaxies
    3. Galactic Formation
    4. Galactic Evolution
    5. Supermassive Black Holes
    6. Active Galactic Nuclei and Quasars
  15. Gamma-Ray Bursts and Cosmic Rays
    1. Introduction and Brief History of Gamma-Ray Bursts
    2. Long-Soft and Short-Hard Classifications
    3. Fluence and Extragalactic Nature
    4. Sources of Gamma-Ray Bursts
    5. Lingering Mysteries
  16. Cosmology
    1. The Distance Ladder
    2. The Big Bang and Cosmic Expansion
    3. The First Three Minutes
    4. Higgs Boson
    5. An Accelerating Universe
References
Exercises

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