Posted on Thursday, October 09, 2014
By Kadri
Observational Astrophysics

Authors: Léna, P., Rouan, D., Lebrun, F., Mignard, F., Pelat, D.
Translated by Lyle, S.

"Observational Astrophysics" is a textbook for graduate students and astrophysicists.

When for undergraduate students in college or for high school students it is often enough to cover the basics of observational astrophysics in an astronomy class, it is mostly focused on the optical wavelengths and possibly also how Charge Coupled Devices (CCD-s) work, for more advanced students that would not be enough. This is where this textbook steps in.

The textbook looks at how the information about the Universe is received and covers the whole spectrum of electromagnetic waves. Starting from the basics the book makes it clear why and how different types of telescopes and methods are used in astrophysics.

The book gives an in-depth overview of everything one might want to know specifically about observations. If you have ever wondered how exactly the X-ray or neutrino telescopes work and what kind of detectors are used there, then this is the right book to look into.

In addition to introducing all the different types of observation equipment, the reader finds out more about different problems that engineers have to face when constructing telescopes, but also what kind of distractions exist for different types of observations – everyone knows that clouds don’t let us observe in the optical wavelengths, but what kind of difficulties does the atmosphere cause in addition to that and can something interfere with observing in the radio wavelengths?

Telescopes aren't the only subject of this book, as they’re (only) the tool for gathering data, it also introduces data processing and analysis, or what to do with the data after it has been recorded.

In addition to the general theory of what, how and, why works, throughout the book there are examples that show where one or other type of technology is in use or has been used and so the reader gets more familiar with the existing observatories and large telescopes both on the ground and in space and also finds out more about some of the large all-sky surveys that have been conducted throughout the years. It is definitely a real bonus – it is not really necessary to understand the concept, but shows that it’s not just theory - somewhere someone is using this method.

Also, as it is a textbook, there are problems at the ends of chapters that help with understanding as the reader has to think more about what they've just read.

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