Astronomy Links Astronomy Applets

This page is here to help those who are taking or revising our introductory Astronomy course intended for anyone with an interest in the subject. You can read an earlier version of the introductory course handout (pdf file) that includes the course contents. The 'overhead summaries' referred to in the list below are .pdf files each containing 6 overheads per page. They can be viewed using Acrobat equivalent software and printed on a postscript printer. The slides are also in pdf files and can be printed in colour, if required, but see further comments on printing slides. The blue panel contains a wide range of supplementary pieces that you can dip into.

    essential guidance     Our essential guidance is a 'must read' for all who want to score well in their courses.

Supplementary pieces

by John S, Reid
Course intro (.pdf)
Printing chapter slides
Course text
Multiple choice questions
Why study astronomy? (.pdf)
What's wrong with astrology? (.pdf)
A rant on ID (.pdf)
btton Why do we seem alone? (.pdf)
Our place in the Universe (.pdf)
Where am I? (.pdf)
button Are we lucky to be alive? (.pdf)
Seeing gravity (.pdf)
Past times, future places? (.pdf)
Is religion necessary? (.pdf)
On Comets (.pdf)
Planetarium notes (.pdf)
Meandering among the stars Meandering among the stars (.pdf)
I'd like to own a telescope I'd like to own a telescope (.pdf)
Midwinter days and other stories Midwinter days and other stories(.pdf)
Visibility of constellations Visibility of constellations(.pdf)
Planetary ballooning (.pdf)
Asteroid mining (.pdf)
What was that bright glow in the sky? (.pdf)
Some odd questions (.pdf)
Rockets of the future? Rockets of the future? (.pdf)
Rockets of the future? Images of space science from the 1960s (html)
Orbits of satellites and planets Orbits of satellites and planets (.pdf)
Astronavigation – finding our way by Sun, Moon and Stars Astronavigation – finding our way by Sun, Moon and Stars(.pdf)
Aberdeen’s Local Astronomical History Aberdeen’s Local Astronomical History(.docx)
Astronomers from NE Scotland (.pdf - a talk)
Eclipsed (.pdf)
button The grammar of science (.pdf)
button Musings for the maths averse (.pdf)
Brainoil (.pdf)
SF Books (.pdf)
Transit of Venus
Astronomy links
400 years of the telescope, part 1 (.pdf)
400 years of the telescope, part 2 (.pdf)
Our observatory
Meteorology course
Interesting sites
The Geddes Prize
xkcd astronomy

The theme of the course is based on 10 chapters of Theo Koupelis and Karl Kuhn's In Quest of the Universe but the course does not track the textbook in detail. For the convenience of students, the lecturer's overheads and hotes can be read here, or copied as a revision aid. These aids weren't intended to be explanatory by themselves, only helpful in conjunction with the lectures and the diagrams in the course text.

What's in the sky?

Identifying constellations and individual stars in the sky is a real problem, not only for beginners but even for some of the more experienced, especially if there is cloud around. I should say 'used to be a real problem' for now all you have to do is download the free app 'Google sky map' into your Android smart-phone and hold the phone up in the direction you are looking in. The constellations in front of you are shown on the phone and the brighter stars identified. The app even identifies the planets. I use an old smart-phone that hasn't a sim card in it just for this. I believe there is an equivalent 'StarMap' application for the iPhone: see the '15 Best Astronomy Applications for the iPhone', but I haven't any experience of them.

If you're wondering what to look at in the night sky, there are lots of books listing interesting objects. However, the Loughton Astronomical Society have produced a list of objects that can be seen in suburban skies with the naked eye or a pair of binoculars. Each object gets a page describing where to find it and what it's about. You can download this list as a pdf. Which of their objects are visible at the moment can be seen on the star chart on their list web-page.

If you fancy taking part in some real modern astronomy (I'm not kidding) then log in to the Zooniverse web site. At the time of posting this they are offering 6 astronomical projects (Galaxy Zoo, Moon Zoo, Planet Four and 3 more) as well as 8 others in climate science, natural history, health science and the humanities. Zooniverse isn't your only chance. Try Solarstormwatch to help locate coronal mass ejections from the Sun among 6 solar related activities based on images from the Stereo spacecrafts. Over 16,000 people have assisted.

Astronomy Links

Astronomy as a discipline has embraced the World Wide Web. A list of useful links is given here. These quickly lead to a great many more sites that will keep you in touch with astronomy NOW.



Astronomy Applets

The course contains a good number of animated diagrams that are not java applets. These animations are NOT included in the notes on this web-page. Applets have tended to fall foul over the years of Java security issues so I suspect that some have not been kept up-to-date and may not run on the browser you are using. In general the applets are not intended to teach the underlying science but to illustrate what is mainly taught in the course.


Kepler's laws of motion(1) (2) Kepler's 2nd law(1) (2) Haley's comet Stellar parallax(1) Stellar parallax (2) Proper motion
Explore the fixed stars Altitude of celestial pole Celestial coordinates and motion Current phase of Moon Lunar phases (1) Lunar phases (2) Inverse square law
Solar system today Solar system live Sky view cafe Rotation of solar system moons Mars retrograde motion Epicycles
Simulation of eclipsing binary Algol Doppler effect Spectroscopic binaries Eclipsing binaries Binary star orbits Orbit simulations
Blackbody radiation Spectra of elements Observing stellar spectra Jupiter's moons now Cepheid variables Sun and Earth
The proton-proton chain HR diagram stellar evolution Influence of a moon on Saturn's rings Redshift Expanding universe Colliding galaxies
Phase of the Moon prediction Planet finder Planetary orrery Jupiter's satellites    

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Page constructed by John S. Reid
Last updated May 2016