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Introduction to Stars and Planets


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Table of Contents

Author Biography
Part I: The Sun1. The Sun's Distance I: the Method of Aristarchus2. The Sun's Distance II: Transits and Radar-ranging of Venus3. The Sun's Diameter and Mass4. The Sunspot Cycle5. The Solar Constant6. The Sun's Luminosity7. The Sun's Surface Temperature8. Spectral Lines and the Chemistry of the Sun9. Is the Sun on Fire?10. How Long Will the Sun Shine?
Part II: The Stars11. The Distances of Stars: Stellar Parallax12. Weighing a Star: Binary Stars and Stellar Mass13. The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram14. The Distance to a Star Cluster
15. The Evolution of the Sun16. The Evolution of Massive Stars17. Supernovae: The Expansion of the Crab Nebula18. The Event Horizon of Black Holes19. Kepler's Third Law and the Masses of Black Holes20. Our Place in the Galaxy
Part III: The Planets21. A Slice of Earth22. Geological Time in Perspective23. The Comparative Density of Planets24. Planetary Surface Temperatures25. The Habitable Zone26. The Search for Exoplanets: Doppler Method27. The Search for Exoplanets: Transit Method (I)28. The Search for Exoplanets: Transit Method (II)
Appendix A

About the Author

Alan Hirshfeld, Professor of physics at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, is Chair of the American Astronomical Society's Historical Astronomy Division and a longtime Associate of the Harvard College Observatory. He is the author of Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos; The Electric Life of Michael Faraday; Eureka Man: The Life and Legacy of Archimedes; Astronomy Activity and Laboratory Manual; and Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe. He is a regular book reviewer for The Wall Street Journal and writes and lectures frequently on science history and discovery. Visit the author's website at www.alanhirshfeld.com.


An excellent primer for early-years undergraduates, this book contains a large number of short chapters on the Sun, stars, and planets, each followedby a number of exercises in the form of worksheets for the student. It could reasonably be used by individual students (especially in the current covid crisis) or by teachers to supplement their lessons.

The Observatory, Vol. 141 2021 June * The Observatory *

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