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Talk:Astronomy and astrophysics

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Jmccann, consider precession done. Post any request here, or email me at wayne@thurnscoe.co.uk 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 image.gspc.nasa.gov 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"...so, 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

Would not "prograde orbit" and "retrograde orbit" not be better covered in the "orbit" article? They're simply matters of how an orbit is perceived from another planet in the same system... I'm not sure they need separate articles. It's difficult to talk about prograde orbits without mentioning retrograde ones, and vice versa. Opinions? -- April

I agree that it's probably simplest to cover prograde and retrograde orbits in the same article, but the distinction isn't quite as arbitrary as you suggest; prograde and retrograde orbits are percieved as such relative to the rotation of the primary body they orbit, a simple and objective measure. A retrograde orbit has significant implications. For example, there are several moons of outer planets in retrograde orbits (Triton is the most obvious example), and having a retrograde orbit means they were almost certainly captured and also means that they will one day spiral in due to tidal effects and be destroyed.

Hi. In the article about Keppler, I note that there is brief mention of "Tyco." Should this not be expanded to mention something specific about Tyco Brahe, who did so much of the grunt work? ... tony

I really hate what they did to this page. From a page that actually contained some information, it became a list of links. Don't anybody thinks the same!

I agree. The recent changes suck. AstroNomer, you know this page better than me. Would you like to revert? -- CYD

I tend to agree also - I think it had a lot of useful info before which has now disappeared. Judging from Lir's comments at the bottom of Talk:Main Page, she thinks this is a great improvement. I can see what she's getting at: there is, I think, some value in a plain list of links on a particular complex subject - an index page, if you like - but I'd rather it was on a separate page, like List of astronomy topics[?] or something. --Camembert

Has this information actually disappeared? My understanding is that it is all enclosed behind the appropriate links. Now if you want...we could have an explanation of positional astronomy and an explanation of radio telescopes etc. etc. but that isn't going to be very useful to the reader. If the reader wants to read that explanation, they want to go to the full page, not get a brief synposis of it.

Not that no information should be presented here, Id like to see more information here, but a discussion of what is already on another page is pointless. Lir 16:17 Nov 3, 2002 (UTC)

I'm not sure it would be entirely pointless to have some duplication here. I agree that the page shouldn't go into too much depth, but I think a brief overview of all the main areas (and some of the minor areas also) is useful, with a more in depth treatment on the individual pages. I also think that in some cases, it is useful to have a brief note next to links; it probably isn't obvious to an average reader what precession is, for instance, and a note would give them the briefest possible explanation of it, so they know whether they want to read more. People who know what it means are probably going to use the search function anyway. That said, this isn't a subject I know much about, so I'll let those who know more get on with it.--Camembert

I don't know if a brief cliff's note describing precession would be of any use to the reader either. The physics page doesn't have that sort of format. Ie


Bla blah blah

Position astronomy-astronomy observing positions of the stars blah blah Radio astronomy- astronomy using big radio waves blah blah blah X-Ray astronomy- astronomy using X-Rays blah blah blah Planetology-a study of planets blah blah blah

Lir 16:55 Nov 4, 2002 (UTC)

I agree. The page is now merely a laundry list of links to other pages, whereas before it was actually a readable article! Imagine you know nothing about astronomy. Reading through the article, you see a bunch of links with incomprehensible names. Why should you click on any of them? Which should you click on? It's unusable.

It IS still a readable article. There are several paragraphs at the top. Imagine you know nothing about astronomy...where to start? I advise you make Astronomy for Beginners[?]. This page did not serve the function you suggest before it was edited to this format. Such a page would probably refer the reader to Amateur Astronomy and positional astronomy.

There's nothing wrong with duplicating information. Ideally, we want a short discussion of each important topic in the astronomy article, with the topic examined in greater depth in the full page. See, for example, the Physics article, which contains a short history of physics with a more detailed history in the works in a separate page. It isn't perfect, but I think it's more motivating than a laundry list.

Lir, could you please put the removed information back on this page? -- CYD

The only difference I can see between this and the physics page is that we have moved the history of astronomy to it's own page. You say you want a brief discussion of each "important topic" but what is important? What good will it do to cut and paste the first paragraph from each subject page onto this page? Lir 16:50 Nov 4, 2002 (UTC)

well, maybe not the first paragraph, but bare lists are not terribly good content. -- Tarquin

i restored some but it looks way messy to me. The list without comment is much more useful. Lir 17:19 Nov 4, 2002 (UTC)

I have changed the article to a form that is closer to its former self. In particular

  • I put back the explanation of the different subfields of study
  • I eliminated the list of isolated topics, after verifying they are listed in "list of astronomy topics".
  • I put back the short history. It is my belief that a short story of the subject is adequate in this page, and a long history deserves its own article. I consider this to be subject to discussion.--AN 01:58 Nov 6, 2002 (UTC)

Your revert erased subfields. Lir 15:40 Nov 6, 2002 (UTC)

Your brief history was pointless. It's all in history of astronomy and it is meaningless to those who know nothing and redundant to those who do know the history. I believe the only question here is whether there should be a paragraph explaining the difference between radio astronomy and X-Ray astronomy[?] and optical astronomy. I see no reason for such madness. If somebody wants to read about optical astronomy they can click on the link. That's what it is there for.

I mean

Infrared astronomy deals with using infrared radiation

is about as pointless as

Radio astronomy deals with using radio telescopes

Lir 15:53 Nov 6, 2002 (UTC)

Imho both are useful albeit too concise explanations for outsiders. Erik Zachte

Once again the revert is losing a lot of data by going back so far and since it doesnt add anything that isnt on another page... rerevert Lir 22:00 Nov 6, 2002 (UTC)

It was you modifications that lost a lot of information. And the previous edit back was not a simple revert, but I tried to incorporate several of the changes you had made. You, instead, simply put back your last copy, that doesn't read like an article, and misses information.--AN

Now look. As the page says, Astronomy is a big topic. Thus, Astronomy needs some disambiguation. Go look at a disambiguation page-see how they have a big list that is clearly visible? You have all this history of astronomy stuff clogging the top of the page-there is a page for history of astronomy its all there. Lir 22:49 Nov 6, 2002 (UTC)

No one is disputing that all of astronomy cannot fit onto one page, but it does not follow that the astronomy article should be little more than a list of topics. People click on a link to "astronomy" expecting to see a cohesive and articulate article on astronomy, so there is nothing wrong with having a brief history of astronomy on this page - just as there is nothing wrong with having a list of links of further topics co-existing with it. -- CYD

I am not disputing that information should not be on this page, I am only disputing the type and location of it. To be honest, I really don't care what you put below the links-but those links need to be high up on the page so they are easily used by someone. Lir 23:51 Nov 6, 2002 (UTC)

In drafting the original section differentiating astronomy and astrology, I deliberately avoided calling astrology a pseudoscience in an attempt to maintain the NPOV. Calling it a pseudoscience (although of course I believe it is, at best) is kind of a slap in the face, and that's not neutral. What's the consensus? Should this be reworded? If we call it a pseudoscience here, what's to keep someone from using loaded language on the astrology page to denigrate astronomy?

That said, I'll be content to abide with whatever the consensus on this is. Tally ho! Stormwriter

Do astrologists claim that its a science? Yes, I guess they do...

The study of the positions and aspects of celestial bodies in the belief that they have an influence on the course of natural earthly occurrences and human affairs.

I would word it that astrologers argue that they are conducting science BUT the key tenent of the scientific process is that a scientific hypothesis leads to predictions which can be proven as correct. This argument is ignored on most "astrology IS a science" websites. So the question then is, "Do any astrologers have any predictions that we can test for validity?" and wait to see if anyone offers up a prediction.

Lir 04:41 Nov 7, 2002 (UTC)

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