Part Five Space Observation and Travel

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Optics and Telescopes


CHAPTER 18 Observing the Invisible 447

CHAPTER 19 Traveling and Living in Space 477

CHAPTER 20 Your Home Observatory 501

Test: Part Five 533

Final Exam 541

Answers to Quiz, Test, and

Exam Questions 559

Suggested Additional Reference 567

Index 569

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This book is for people who want to learn basic astronomy without taking a formal course. It also can serve as a supplemental text in a classroom, tutored, or home-schooling environment. I recommend that you start at the beginning of this book and go straight through.

In this book, we'll go on a few "mind journeys." For example, we'll take a tour of the entire Solar System, riding hybrid space/aircraft into the atmospheres and, in some cases, to the surfaces of celestial bodies other than Earth. Some of the details of this trip constitute fiction, but the space vehicles and navigational mechanics are based on realistic technology and astronomical facts.

This book is about astronomy, not cosmology. A full discussion of theories concerning the origin, structure, and evolution of the Universe would constitute a full course in itself. While the so-called Big Bang theory is mentioned, arguments supporting it (or refuting it) are beyond the scope of this volume. The fundamentals of relativity theory are covered; these ideas are nowhere near as difficult to understand as many people seem to believe. Space travel and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence are discussed as well.

This book contains an abundance of practice quiz, test, and exam questions. They are all multiple-choice and are similar to the sorts of questions used in standardized tests. There is a short quiz at the end of every chapter. The quizzes are "open book."You may (and should) refer to the chapter texts when taking them. When you think you're ready, take the quiz, write down your answers, and then give your list of answers to a friend. Have your friend tell you your score but not which questions you got wrong. The answers are listed in the back of the book. Stick with a chapter until you get most of the answers correct.

This book is divided into several major sections. At the end of each section is a multiple-choice test. Take these tests when you're done with the respective sections and have taken all the chapter quizzes. The section tests are "closed book." Don't look back at the text when taking them. The questions are not as hard as those in the quizzes, and they don't require that you memorize trivial things. A satisfactory score is three-quarters of the answers correct. Again, answers are in the back of the book.


There is a final exam at the end of this course. The questions are practical and are easier than those in the quizzes. Take this exam when you have finished all the sections, all the section tests, and all the chapter quizzes. A satisfactory score is at least 75 percent correct answers.

With the section tests and the final exam, as with the quizzes, have a friend tell you your score without letting you know which questions you missed. In that way, you will not subconsciously memorize the answers. You might want to take each test and the final exam two or three times. When you have gotten a score that makes you happy, you can check to see where your knowledge is strong and where it is not so keen.

I recommend that you complete one chapter a week. An hour or two daily ought to be enough time for this. Don't rush yourself; give your mind time to absorb the material. But don't go too slowly either. Take it at a steady pace, and keep it up. In that way, you'll complete the course in a few months. (As much as we all wish otherwise, there is no substitute for good study habits.) When you're done with the course, you can use this book, with its comprehensive index, as a permanent reference.

Suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Stan Gibilisco

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