Stars are hundreds of thousands of times farther away from us than the planets are from us. The nearest star (other than the Sun) is so far away that the fastest spacecraft the human race has built so far would take almost several tens of thousands of years to get there. Yet we are a curious and ambitious species, and we want to know how those stars are born, live out their lives, and die. How can we learn about objects that are so remote and beyond our physical grasp? This chapter gives you an idea of how we learn about the stars and what we find about the stars. If your math skills are rusty, study the math review appendix and do not hesitate to ask your astronomy instructor for help. The vocabulary terms are in boldface.
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last updated: 23 May 2001