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Observational Astronomy

  • New edition specially written and updated for courses in observational astronomy
  • Covers topics that will be of practical use to astronomy students, all within a single volume
  • Introduces historically interesting facts alongside important technical details
  • Includes end of chapter review questions, which are suitable for homework

By: D Scott Birney(Author), Guillermo Gonzalez(Author), David Oesper(Author)

322 pages, no illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Jun 2006 | Edition: 2 | #160609 | ISBN: 0521853702
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £49.99 $65/€56 approx

About this book

The long-awaited second edition of this well-received textbook gives a thorough introduction to observational astronomy. Starting with the basics of positional astronomy and systems of time, it continues with charts and catalogs covering both historically important publications and modern electronic databases. Observational Astronomy builds on a fundamental discussion of the basics of light and the effects of the atmosphere on astronomical observations. Chapters include discussions of optical telescopes, detectors, photometry, variable stars, astrometry, spectroscopy, and solar observations. This edition contains new discussions of measurements with CCDs and appendices give basic statistical methods, useful astronomical software and websites, and sources of accurate time-calibration signals.

Observational Astronomy is the perfect textbook for upper level undergraduate or beginning graduate courses on astronomy. Examples based on real astronomical data are placed throughout the text. Each of the well-illustrated chapters is supported by a set of graduated problems and suggestions for further reading.

"Throughout there are useful equations of appropriate complexity and a helpful appendix of some statistical methods and internet resources. Each chapter ends with a set of graduated problems (though without solutions) and further reading suggestions, illustrations, mainly in the form of line drawings, are plentiful and useful for their simplicity."
- Astronomy Now

"As is fitting for today's e-aware students, the availability of electronic catalogues and databases, such as provided by the CDS in Strasbourg, is highlighted [...] Along with some quite practical advice on obtaining high-quality data, a student will find particularly helpful the real-world cases of differential photometry, making use of the author's own data, in two up-to-date projects which each present their own particular challenges [...] I will recommend this book highly to my students. [...] there is certainly much material suitable also for a (UK) first-year undergraduate. [...] I don't think any other book on optical observational astronomy has quite the focus, and yet range, as this [...]"
- The Observatory



1. The celestial sphere and coordinate systems
2. Time
3. Charts and catalogs
4. Applications of the spherical triangle
5. Quantifying light
6. Optical telescopes
7. Effects of the atmosphere
8. Light detectors
9. CCD calibrations
10. Astronomical photometry
11. Astrometry
12. Spectrographs
13. Spectroscopy
14. Variable stars
15. Observing the sun


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