I have compiled the tables, graphs, diagrams, and formulae in this book in order to provide a ready reference and working tool for the practicing space astronomer and astrophysicist. Ground-based astronomers, students, and advanced amateur astronomers will find much here of interest, too. The material represents a diversified selection based upon the circumstance that the space astronomer and astrophysicist must draw upon knowledge of atomic physics, nuclear physics, relativity, plasma physics, electromagnetism, mathematics, probability and statistics, geophysics, experimental physics, et cetera, in addition to the classical branches of astronomy. My hope is that this book will replace hunting through many separate works or a trip to the reference library or to the World Wide Web. In that spirit, I welcome suggestions of material for inclusion in a later edition and, of course, corrections or criticism.
There are 21 chapters in the book. The first chapter contains physical, astronomical, and numerical constants, and unit conversions. Chapters 2–8 cover general astronomy and astrophysics, radio, infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray, and gamma-ray astronomy, and cosmic rays. Chapter 9 contains information on the Earth's atmosphere and environment relevant to space science. Chapter 10 covers special and general relativity and chapter 11 provides relevant information in atomic physics. Electromagnetic radiation and plasma physics are the subjects of chapters 12 and 13. The remaining chapters deal with the tools of the trade, viz., information on radiation and particle interactions, detectors, astronautics, useful mathematical relations, probability and statistics formulae, laboratory radiation safety, a comprehensive list of astronomical catalogs, and computer science. Each chapter ends with a bibliography for further reading on the subject of the chapter and for more extensive reference material.