Astronomy and Astrophysics/Talk

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Jmccann, consider precession done. Post any request here, or email me at and I can add to almost any subject I'm made aware of.

I notice that there are several people editing astronomy related topics. I think that before there is too much material, some planning should take place. An example of what I am talking about is the entries for the planets: there is no consistency from one to the other (except for the ones I typed in yesterday: Venus, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Here are some proposals for proceeding.

Before proceeding to cover topics in depth (other than pet topics that people cannot be stopped from covering immediately) let's make certain that all basic terms are covered. I am aware that "Wikipedia is not a dictionary", but I think that many basic concepts (e.g. precession, obliquity of the ecliptic) to give two right off the top of my head) need to be present in order for the work to stand on its own. Maybe we can make a list on this page of requested articles.

Lists of things: We need to set up some formats, for instance, each planet will have its radius, density etc. in a common format, and will have a description of its composition, and then cover unique features of the planet.

Big, long tables of objects: Do we want big long tables? I am not sure this is useful, should there be big long tables in an encyclopedia (Look at the entry for Star)? I am not sure how valuable this is. If I want to look up Bellatrix, am I going to look up Star and then click on Bellatrix? If I look up Star, do I want to see a long list of names, with no additional information?


Most (if not all) astronomers now have a strong background in physics, and observations are always put in an astrophysical context, so the distinction between astronomy and astrophysics almost doesn't exist anymore.

Is this true for planetary scientists and exobiologists, though? For an astrophysicist I imagine there's no significant difference, but what about the other specializations within astronomy? --LMS

I've been thinking about that. The truth is, I didn't think of exobiologist as astronomers...but according to my own definition, they are. Maybe I should think of moving this back to astronomy, and giving exobiology a place there. In the case of planetary scientists, i'm pretty sure that their physics background must be good, though they could be strongers in other areas of earth sciences. I think we need more astronomers around here. -- AN

Has anyone considered pilfering NASA site for materials to add? I've just gone there and not found a general copyright notice, stating that it covers materials on the entire site, but it seems to be under the typical U.S. gov't terms; the notices I have found all say not to use pictures including recognizable people for any commercial purpose w/o written permission, and say the materials must not be used to imply endorsement by NASA, etc. No explicit word on whether the materials are in the public domain (I expect that they are). --KQ

Actually, just on mon I emailed the webmaster of about their copyrights, because of the article x-ray astronomy that I found out was copied from there. The head e-mailed me back telling aprox "we are a federal gov. site so our material is in the public domain, we appreciate, though, that credit is given", i put the article back, with a link to the website saying it was from them. That opens lots of new oportunities. AN

Hi AN--you asked me to look at this, and the page is really shaping up well, I think. I'd say it's one of the better portal pages now! The only trouble I see is with overcapitalization of titles...and even then some of the instances are arguable (e.g., whether "astronomy" should be capitalized). --LMS