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What is the first step to pursue astronomy?

  1. May 14, 2016 #1
    Hi everyone I am mechanical engineering student ,after my degree I am planning to have a degree in astronomy so I need advises to help me study astronomy as a self-study in summer !!
    what is the first textbook should I buy ??
    what is the curriculum in this field for campus ( name of courses enough) ??
    what is the difference between astronomy and astrophysics ??
  2. jcsd
  3. May 14, 2016 #2


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    The first step: wait until it gets dark, go outside, look up, and fall in love.

    Perhaps rather than embarking on an entire second degree, you could take an astronomy elective in your engineering degree to see if this is a field you really want to pursue academically. Remember, that astronomy is one of things you can do as an amateur. Some amateurs even make very significant contributions to the field.

    If you do pursue it academically, there really wouldn't be too much difference between degrees in physics or astronomy, aside perhaps for a few astro-specific courses. You could take either if you wanted to eventually pursue a PhD in astronomy or astrophysics. Generally, specializing too much in undergrad is not advisable because it closes more doors than it opens.
  4. May 14, 2016 #3
    Get yourself a good star chart, learn how to read it, memorize the constellations, and be able to identify them in the night sky. Astronomy deals primarily with the location and composition of celestial objects. Astrophysics is the study of the physical mechanism of those celestial objects, such as nucleosynthesis. You really can't study astrophysics without knowing something about astronomy first. Learn about parallax, Cepheid variables, the various supernovae types, and red shift to get an understanding about how cosmological distances are determined.

    An introduction to astronomy college course will typically include familiarization of the solar system before moving into the stars and galaxies. Be prepared to take some nighttime lab courses where you will be using telescopes. The mathematics skills you learn as a mechanical engineer will help. Astronomy, and especially astrophysics, are very math dependent.
  5. May 14, 2016 #4
    thank you a lot for your deep information
  6. May 17, 2016 #5


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    You will probably need some highs level math courses [like linear algebra] not necessarily required for an engineering degree as a prerequisite for grad level astrophysics courses. You should check out some AP programs to see what kind of math background is desirable. There is essentially no differerence between astrophysics and astronomy.
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