Observing the Universe Book Review
Observing the Universe, A Guide to Observational Astronomy and Planetary Science is a full colour astronomy book which has been compiled by a team of experts from The Open University. The book has been designed for students who are undertaking observational work in astronomy and planetary science, but is suitable for amateur astronomers.
The book begins with looking at the basics of our planet and its rotation together with the orbit of our planets in the solar system. There is a small section on how to use astronomical software programs as well as planispheres. The next section describes the different types of telescopes and how they work as well as the different types of telescope mountings.
There is a section on spectrographs and astronomical detectors, which are really CCD cameras. There are some interesting sections on reducing CCD data including details on bad pixels, bias and dark subtraction and even flat fielding.
The next sections of the book are about photometry and spectroscopy, there are scary equations in this section. Photometry is the technique of measuring the brightness of astronomical objects.
The second half of the book is given over to preparing for practical work in astronomy. This section really is for students or amateurs who want to start doing astronomical maths so to speak. This section instructs you how to keep observation records, and how to deal with experimental uncertainties, such as calculating standard deviations. There is also information on how to use calculators and computers and how to make use of graphs for astronomical research.
The back of the book contains answers to the questions asked at the end of every section and chapter of the book, there is also an extensive glossary.
Overall, Observing the Universe is a very good book, and it’s in colour. This makes it a great beginners astronomy book or for a student or someone who wants to get further into astronomical science and start to gather and work with astronomical scientific data.