6
$\begingroup$

I'm a math undergrad, but I'm really interested in learning positional astronomy; However, the only well-referenced textbook I've come up with is Spherical Astronomy by W. M. Smart.

I would like to understand how suitable it is today. I have the 6th edition which seems to be the latest, but which was issued back in 1977. I know that a relatively old math text book, for example Apostol's Calculus (published in the 60's, if I'm not wrong), won't present too much trouble, but I'm a newcomer to astronomy, so I don't know if a book printed in 1977 is "up to date".

Given the case that there are better or more up-to-date books, are there other recommended texts for me to read as well or is this one a good choice?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Do you mean Spherical Astronomy by W.M. Smart (from this comment) or are you talking about a different book? Or perhaps Positional Astronomy by D. McNally? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 8 '18 at 5:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Exactly, but that seems to be the fourth edition, I have the sixth one. That's the only detail. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Bonilla Jaramillo Nov 8 '18 at 6:02
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Spherical trig has not changed since 1977. $\endgroup$ – Rob Jeffries Nov 8 '18 at 9:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There is another book called Spherical Astronomy, by Robin M Green. Green updated Smart's book (the 6th edition, 1977) and then wrote his own text. I haven't read it, but it appears more modern in style, although as noted above the subject hasn't changed 1977, albeit the ready availability of computational power has made life easier. $\endgroup$ – Dr Chuck Nov 8 '18 at 11:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ If you want to make positional calculations, you would implement the algorithms that you learn from the book, but not use any positional information from them. You would get your positional information out of a star catalog (if you are doing stars), or get the latest ephemerides from JPL. $\endgroup$ – Dave Nov 8 '18 at 18:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.