Western Libraries

Astronomy 2801

Stars, Galaxies & Cosmology

Course Resources

This page contains information and links to resources relevant to the Astronomy 2801A Term Report:

  • Slides from Librarian's (Dan's) presentation (the slides provide more details re. the items linked below)
  • Google and Wikipedia can be a good starting point, but don't end your research there. While they can give you a lot of information, you'll need to back it up with reliable sources. E.g., reliable scientific websites, journal articles. What sources do Wikipedia and other websites cite? It's preferable that they be primary astronomy research journal articles, or the databases mentioned below. Find these sources and use them.
  • SIMBAD Astronomical Database can give you:
    • star names, called "identifiers"
    • some (but not all) astronomical star catalogues, found under "External identifiers" > "Catalog information from VizieR"
    • coordinates (use FK5 coord.)
    • spectral type and luminosity class (e.g., Spectral type "B8Iab" means spectral type "B8" and luminosity class "Iab")
    • whether or not the star is variable (look for "V*" and details)
    • links to articles, called "References," found in ADS
  • VizieR Service can give you:
    • more astronomical star catalogues. Search by "Target Name" (e.g., an identifier from SIMBAD) with the following settings: J2000, Target radius = 10 arcsec (or less), Maximum Entries per table = unlimited.
    • Note: You will have to determine whether or not the search results are suitable. Try changing the target radius (making it smaller) to filter-out garbage results. You can also massage the data using another program.
    • coordinates (use RAJ2000, RA1925 or DE 1925)
    • apparent magnitude (use Vmag, Bmag)
    • spectral type and luminosity class (e.g., SpType "B8 Ia" means spectral type "B8" and luminosity class "Ia")
  • Articles in principal astronomy research journals can give you:
    • distance from Earth and accuracy to which the distance is known
    • absolute (intrinsic) magnitude
    • spectral type and luminosity class
    • whether or not the star is variable, and details
    • whether or not the star is a member of a binary system, and details including its period, velocity curve, eccentricity, luminosity curve, etc.
    • recent (2002 or later) astronomical research on your star
  • You want at least one article from primary astronomy research journals such as:
  • Search for articles in primary astronomy research journals using databases such as:
    • SIMBAD Astronomical Database: "References" will provide links to "ADS services" where you can get the "Full
      Refereed Journal Article."
    • ADS: Astrophysics Data System, a full text database that allows you to search multiple journals at once, and gives you citations for articles in older issues.
    • ADS has a highly customizable Astronomy and Astrophysics Search that's not intuitive to use, but is useful.
    • Astrophysics, a subset of arXiv.org that contains newer preprints (usually only once the papers have been accepted for publication). (Note: these are included in ADS, so I mention Astrophysics only as an FYI.)
  • Articles in semi-popular journals can give you public interest new stories. You may want to use semi-popular journals such as:
  • If you can't find the full text online, search the library catalogue by Journal Title (not by article title). The library catalogue contains both links to online journals as well as information on what Western Libraries has in print format.
  • Bibliography: use ApJ's citation style (includes examples)
  • Though it is not required, you may use BibTeX and LaTeX to format your papers and bibliographies.
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