We can determine an amazing number of physical properties of stars, usually based only on a little bit of light. Over the next several lectures, "we" will talk about how the following properties are determined for stars:

The Bigger Picture

  • First - let's get oriented. We live out in the suburbs of a pretty good sized spiral galaxy that contains on the order of 1011 stars.

    The Milky Way Galaxy

    What are the stellar Constellations?

    Constellations are just people connecting dots. Many of the stars that are close together in the plane of the sky (the projection of the three dimensional galaxy into two dimensions) are quite far apart long the line of sight.

    constellations are a projection of the stars we see

    What about star names?

    The brightest stars have various names - mostly from long ago. There are no "official" names for stars. The often used convention in the West is to use the Greek alphabet to identify the brightest stars belonging to some constellation.

    Stellar Brightness