Sunday, February 10, 2013

Teach Yourself Astronomy

Author:      Sir Patrick Moore
Published: 2008
Publisher: Hodder Education
Paperback: 256 pages

My first attempt to learn  Astronomy was when I enrolled myself in Coursera's free online course "Introduction to Astronomy" . That was a disaster. The lectures were overwhelming and too fast paced for my comfort . So one fine day I just dropped out of the course.
And then a month later I picked up from the library  this book by the world renowned astronomer Sir Patrick Moore. This time my experience was definitely better.
The book is written in a very simple easy to understand manner with a sense of humor at places. Many of the concepts are well explained.
However you tend to loose your way in the maze of  jargons and names of countless stars, constellations and galaxies. 
It seems to me the subject of astronomy is such that it can't be grasped in a single reading, however much the author tries to simplify it.

But overall a fairly good book to get started on astronomy.

Chapter 1: Introducing Astronomy - Basic facts about astronomy; definitions of  the most important terms.
Chapter 2: The Spinning Sky - The celestial sphere; how the positions of celestial bodies are given in the sky; the celestial equivalents of latitude and longitude on the Earth.
Chapter 3: Sky-watchers - The history of astronomy from the old sky-watchers to the huge telescopes and space-probes of today.
Chapter 4: The Astronomer's Telescope - The various types of astronomical telescopes; how the telescopes work; how to choose a telescope for yourself.
Chapter 5: Into space - Space-craft, from early Earth satellites to international space-stations
Chapter 6: The Sun - How the Sun's distance was measured; the Sun itself and how it produces energy; solar eclipses.
Chapter 7: The Moon - The Moon, its phases an its effects on our tides; the Moon's surface and how lunar craters were formed; the eclipses of the Moon.
Chapter 8: The Sun's Family - The members of the Solar System; how the members of the Solar System move and how they differ from each other.
Chapter 9: The Inner Planets - The three planets which, together with Earth, make up the inner part of the Solar System viz; Mercury, Venus and Mars.
Chapter 10: The Outer Planets - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Chapter 11: Minor Members of the Solar System - Asteroids, Comets, Meteors and Meteorites.
Chapter 12: The Stars - The stars, and what they are; how we measure the stars' distances; how stars are divided up into constellations.
Chapter 13: Pattern of Stars - How to identify the various constellations at different times of the year.
Chapter 14: Double and Variable Stars - About double stars and variable stars.
Chapter 15: The Life and Times of a Star - Stellar evolution for low-mass and high-mass stars.
Chapter 16: The Star-clusters and Nebulae - Clusters of stars, both loose and globular; planetary nebulae.
Chapter 17: The Depths of the Universe - Galaxies; how the whole universe is expanding.
Chapter 18: Into the Future - New investigations into the possibility of life on other worlds.


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