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I am a high school senior (Grade 12) with a passion for Astronomy/Astrophysics. I already searched quite a bit here on the other questions on resources, but I couldn't find any that shows a concise, systematic order that one can follow. (I might have also missed it if so I do apologize. If it helps I do have quite a decent handle on AP-level Calculus and decent physics background.

So, I would like a systematic order of books, videos, resources of any kind that I could peruse to achieve a significant foundation (and ambitiously say up to a Graduate level?) in Astronomy/Astrophysics.

Thank You!!!

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    $\begingroup$ I just added another tag then realized that I don't know the difference between the resource and reference-request tags. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 27 at 0:36
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    $\begingroup$ close voters, this question seems perfectly on-topic. Check out all the other very well received and answered questions tagged resource before deciding to block answers to this one! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 27 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't it be better to merge both the tags (The resource tag and reference-request tag)? $\endgroup$ – Aadhavan Apr 28 at 7:50
  • $\begingroup$ I've created a question in meta for that discussion, please feel free to discuss there. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 28 at 8:07
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High School Senior

Your first mission is to concentrate on getting a good set of results from high school. That really means not spending your time chasing astronomy and astrophysics yet.

Yes, this is what your parents and teachers would say, but you know, if you ever want to have the time, resources and maybe the chance to study and/or work in these fields you absolutely are going to need the very best high school results you can manage. And even if you don't weant to study a B.Sc. or higher then you still need the resources and that means a decent job and career prospects. Money is important, or as the saying goes "No bucks, no Buck Rogers”.

So focus on that first.

a systematic order

For self study this is not needed. I'd suggest not being systematic outside of a specific goal, like having to pass exams set by other people.

You need to differentiate between Astronomy and Astrophyics.

Astronomy is a kind of "catch-all" term for every possible thing you could study or observe about anything that goes on outside of our atsmosphere and planet. You can include geology, biology, chemistry, physics and just about anything else that can be termed a science, as well as engineering (you have to build stuff to do stuff - rocket science and telescopes of many types, etc.). Astrophysics is then a subset of Astronomy focusing on the application of physics to astronomy.

Now you want graduate level or graduate level "foundation" as a target. That means you want a B.Sc. level course. As you want Astrophysics you basically need a B.Sc. level course in physics. That's a lot of study. You'll cover topics like:

  • electromagnetism
  • basic quantum theory
  • basic special and general relativity
  • basic thermodynamics
  • mechanics
  • optics

Keep in mind a systematic B.Sc. course on basic physics for astrophysics typically takes four full years. You have to learn to think about physics problems and get a feel for how things are done. That's arguably more important than the actual details of any particular theory.

Don't be distracted by glamor subjects like quantum theory and relativity. Mechanics, Electromagnetism and Thermodynamics are very, very important.

So let's focus on astrophysics and understand that you have to start with physics and what resources will help.

Libraries

Great things, not loved or used enough. One set I personally really useful was the Schaum Outline series as a launching point and if you can get anything from your library, borrow them. You don't need to swallow books whole - read what you need and borrow again when you need more. There are lots of books out there and for physics and we all have favorites (and ones we'd avoid ever reading again). Boring old textbooks like e.g. Halliday and Resnick are as good a place to start as any. My first exposure to quantum theory proper was by a book borrowed from my local library.

Videos

There are multiple courses on physics online. A couple to consider :

There's also excellent YouTube channels like :

By no means the only ones.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer! I am actually following most of your advice already (like watching Prof. Susskind's Lects.) & I have a decent base in Mech, E/M, etc. but the main reason I wanted a systematic way was the fact that I don't have a proper foundation. Like the way I seek out knowledge in Astrophysics felt haphazard as I just studied topics that fascinated me like Black Holes, Stars and their Evolutions, etc. but not the topics like Spherical trigonometry and other relevant concepts which will actually prove helpful in my Undergraduate. What do you suggest I do for that? $\endgroup$ – Aadhavan Apr 28 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ There's nothing wrong with learning topics as you come across them. You do have to do this as an undergrad - there's no hand-holding in university. I'd suggest grabbing a basic text on first year undergrad physics, like Haliday and Resnick and reading it casually. You will be very busy if you become an undergrad so I'd actually suggest relaxing while you can (after your high school exams are finished). Enjoy that period - it won't ever come back again in your life ! $\endgroup$ – StephenG Apr 28 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ Sadly, the High School experience has been completely ruined due to the pandemic in India. Also, the way the curve seems to be still climbing doesn't seem like this is gonna end anytime soon. Junior year is already lost and the senior year seems to be on the way. Online classes are absolutely horrible in comparison to offline. Also, I finished reading Halliday and Resnick and didn't face much difficulty except a bit in Thermodynamics so should I maybe just try to improve upon my foundation in Mech, E/M and all? $\endgroup$ – Aadhavan Apr 28 at 8:03
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    $\begingroup$ I had not realized you were in India - bad times. If you digested H&R and really want something else in physics I'd suggest maybe the Feymann Lectures on Physics available here. They're recommended reading on most physics B.Sc. courses anyway. If you're up for some relaxation try Surely You're joking Mr. Feymann. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Apr 28 at 8:14
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    $\begingroup$ I'm impressed - Feyman's lectures are an impressive achievement at your stage.. Honestly if you've got them as a basis you probably are as prepared as anyone who ever entered university. Your own ideas sound fine to me. As you found thermodynamics the most challenging maybe focus on that. The tendency we all have is to avoid what is least attractive to us - for me it was EM (something about the way it was taught at the time, I think), but it made it harder to learn later. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Apr 28 at 9:12

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