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Astronomy Methods
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  • Hale Bradt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Book description

Astronomy Methods, first published in 2003, is an introduction to the basic practical tools, methods and phenomena that underlie quantitative astronomy. Taking a technical approach, the author covers a rich diversity of topics across all branches of astronomy, from radio to gamma-ray wavelengths. Topics include the quantitative aspects of the electromagnetic spectrum, atmospheric and interstellar absorption, telescopes in all wavebands, interferometry, adaptive optics, the transport of radiation through matter to form spectral lines, and neutrino and gravitational-wave astronomy. Clear, systematic presentations of the topics are accompanied by diagrams and problem sets. Written for undergraduates and graduate students, this book contains a wealth of information that is required for the practice and study of quantitative and analytical astronomy and astrophysics.


'… a brilliant addition to the pedagogy. It is timely, focused, well written, and at the appropriate level … Astronomy Methods will be useful to all students of astronomy and astrophysics, irrespective of whether they intend to specialize in observational astronomy. The material can be adapted easily for various related courses, which makes the book even more valuable.'

Source: Physics Today

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Credits, further reading, and references
Credits, further reading, and references
Credits and further reading
Astronomy through the centuries
Various astronomy texts, e.g., M. Hoskin, The Cambridge Concise History of Astronomy, Cambridge University Press, 1999
Electromagnetic radiation
Various physics and astronomy texts
G.Bekefi & A. Barrett,Electromagnetic Vibrations, Waves and Radiation, MIT Press, 1977
Absorption: M. Zombeck, Handbook of Space Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2nd Ed., Cambridge University Press, 1990
Coordinate systems and charts
Various astronomy texts
Catalogs: Strasbourg Astronomical Data Center (CDS) on internet
Gravity, celestial motions, and time
Motions: Various astronomy texts
Eclipses: M. Littmann & K. Willcox, Totality, University Hawaii Press, 1991; P. Guillermier & S. Koutchmy, Total Eclipses, Springer/Praxis, 1999
Time: Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac, ed. K. Seidelmann, University Science Books, 1992; US Naval Observatory website
Image formation: Various astronomy texts; physics optics texts
Techniques: C. R. Kitchin, Astrophysical Techniques, Institute of Physics, 1998; X-ray Astronomy, eds. R. Giacconi & H. Gursky, Reidel, 1974
Diffraction: G. Bekefi & A. Barrett, ibid
Adaptive optics: J. Beckers, Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys., eds. G. Burbidge, D. Layzer, & A. Sandage, 31, 13 (1993)
Speckle interferometry: “Speckle Imaging: a boon for astronomical observations”, S. K. Saha, Proc. Conf. Young Astrophysicsts of Today's India, 2001; also astroph/0003125
Detectors and statistics
Proportional counter: G. W. Fraser, X-ray Detectors in Astronomy, Cambridge University Press, 1989
CCDs: CCD physics: C-K. Kim in Charge-coupled Devices and Systems, eds. M. J. Howes & D. V. Morgan, John Wiley & Sons, 1979, pp. 1–80
EGRET: G. Kanbach et al. Space Science Reviews49, 69 (1988)
Statistics: R. Evans, The Atomic Nucleus, McGraw-Hill, 1955; L. Lyons, Data Analysis for Physical Science Students, Cambridge University Press, 1991; P. Bevington & D. K. Robinson, Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the Physical Sciences, 2nd Ed., McGraw-Hill Inc., 1992
Multiple telescope interferometry
E. Fomalont & M. Wright, in Galactic and Extragalactic Radio Astronomy, 1st Ed., eds. G. Verschuur and K. Kellermann, Springer-Verlag, 1974, p. 256
E. Fomalont & M. Wright A. R. Thompson, J. Moran, & G. Swenson, Jr., Interferometry and Synthesis in Radio Astronomy, Kreiger, 1991
Point-like and extended sources
Various astrophysics texts, e.g.
B. F. Burke & F. Graham-Smith, An Introduction to Radio Astronomy, 2nd Ed., Cambridge University Press, 2001
J. D. Kraus, Radio astronomy, 2nd Ed., Cygnus Quasar, 1986
Properties and distances of celestial objects
Temperatures: D. Clayton, Principles of Stellar Evolution and Nucleosynthesis, McGraw-Hill, 1968
Distances: various texts and literature, e.g., G. Jacoby et al., PASP104, 599 (1992)
Absorption and scattering of photons
Processes: W. Tucker, Radiation Processes in Astrophysics, MIT Press, 1975; G. Rybicki & A. Lightman, Radiative Processes in Astrophysics, Wylie-Interscience, 1979
Cross sections: Physics radiation texts and M. Zombeck, ibid
Extinction: B. Savage & J. Mathis, Ann Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 17, 73 (1979)
Abundances: N. Grevasse & E. Anders, in AIP Conf. Proc. 183, 1989, ed. C. J. Waddington
Spectra of electromagnetic radiation
Continuum spectra: G. Rybicki & A. Lightman, ibid.
Lines and radiative transfer: E. Bohm-Vitense, Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics, two volumes, Cambridge University Press, 1989
R. J. Rutten, Radiative Transfer in Stellar Atmospheres, Utrecht University lecture notes, 8th ed., on internet, 2003
Non-photonic observatories
J. N. Bahcall, Neutrino Astrophysics, Cambridge University Press, 1990
J. B. Hartle, Gravity, Addison-Wesley, 2002
W. C. Haxton, “The solar neutrino problem”, Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 33, 459 (1995)
M. Boratav, “Probing theories with cosmic rays”, Europhysics News33, No. 5 (2002)
M. W. Friedlander, A Thin Cosmic Rain: Particles from Outer Space, Harvard University Press, 2000
T. K. Gaisser, Cosmic Rays and Particle Physics, Cambridge University Press, 1991
C. Ohanian & R. Ruffini, Gravitation and Spacetime, 2nd Ed., Norton, 1994
S. Hughes, “Listening to the Universe with gravitational wave astronomy”, Annals Phys.303, 142 (2003); astro-ph 0210481
Research results
Review articles in Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics; each volume contains a list of titles of the previous 12 volumes
Articles in amateur astronomy magazines such as Sky and Telescope (see “News Notes”) and Astronomy
Occasional review articles in American Scientist, Physics Today, Scientific American
NASA's Astrophysical Data System (ADS) on the internet; search for review articles on a given topic or for a specific journal article
S. Maran, The Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992
R. Meyers, Editor, Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics, AIP, 1989
P. Murdin, Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 4 volumes, Nature Publishing Group, 2001
General reference
A. Cox, ed., Allen's Astrophysical Quantities, 4th Ed., AIP, 2000
K. Lang, Astrophysical Formulae, 3rd Ed., Astronomy and Astrophysics Library, 1999
J. Mitton, Cambridge Dictionary of Astronomy, Cambridge University Press, 2001
I. Ridpath, Norton's 2000.0 Star Atlas and Reference Handbook, Longman, 1989
R. Zimmerman, The Chronological Encyclopedia of Discoveries in Space, Onyx, 2000
General astrophysics texts for science majors
B. W. Carroll & A. Dale Ostlie, Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, Addison Wesley, 1996
M. Harwit, Astrophysical Concepts, 3rd Ed., Springer, 1998
F. Shu, An Introduction to Astronomy, University Science Books, 1982
A. Unsold, The New Cosmos: An Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics, 5th Ed., Springer, 1999
M. Zeilik & S. Gregory, Introductory Astronomy & Astrophysics, 4th Ed., Saunders College Publishing, 1998


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