Reference material: Less is more

Forums Spectroscopy Reference material: Less is more

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    Kevin Gurney

    I own the classic tome by R. O Gray and C.J Corbally  – ‘Stellar Spectral Classification’ and it contains a wealth of material ordered using (mainly)  the regular spectral classes. I doubt there is much I will ever need to know that is not in there…

    However, I recently stumbled across the following web-page

    which appears to be a very early version of the text, or more properly, some brief notes which were its foundation…

    It is presented as a series of single, short pages, each of which is a ‘vignette’ on a particular focussed topic. The text is short (single paragraph) and each page has a single image of spectra.  The brevity may be due, in part, to the early web-page technology that appears to underly it. I find this approach much more accessible, and each page could be the foundation for a small observation project…

    There is another page at

    which shows evolution towards the main book, but which is also quite short (and is in pdf form)

    Dominic Ford

    The website behind this (LEVEL5) is indeed very ancient, but it also has some very good stuff on it. It’s well worth having a look around what they have — I still routinely refer back to their cosmology tutorials whenever I need a refresher.

    As I understand it, this was a NASA project in the late 1990s to make astronomical tutorial texts freely available on the web. Clearly a lot of effort was put in at the time: they are often written by authoritative authors and are clear and accessible. However, it looks like funding must have dried up in the early 2000s, and since then it’s become of museum piece.

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