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About background sources
Background sources, also known as reference sources, include encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, directories, and other online or print "books". You might want to consult one or more of them when you're first starting your research, especially if the topic you are researching is unfamiliar to you. They can be excellent sources of factual information, concepts, theories, definitions, terminology and references to other, more in-depth, sources of information.
Some of the sources listed on this page are links to online resources, while others are books that are located in one or more campus libraries at Okanagan College.
Selected Dictionaries, Encyclopedias + Handbooks
Encyclopedia of the History of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Call Number: QB 15 .L39 2013 (Kelowna)
A Dictionary of Astronomy
Contains over 4,300 up-to-date entries covering all aspects of astronomy. Compiled with the help of over 20 expert contributors under the editorship of renowned author and broadcaster Ian Ridpath, A Dictionary of Astronomy covers everything from space exploration and the equipment involved, to astrophysics, cosmology, and the concept of time. The dictionary also includes biographical entries on eminent astronomers, as well as worldwide coverage of observatories and telescopes.
The Oxford Companion to Cosmology
Has 350+ in-depth entries - ranging from cosmic inflation and dark energy to Higgs boson and neutrinos - both illuminate the ideas behind the current understanding of the universe and outline the fundamental physics from which those ideas emerge. Subjects covered include the structure of the universe, the evolution of galaxies, galaxy clusters, and cold dark matter. It deals with both theoretical ideas, such as alternative cosmologies, as well as the various types of observational evidence, including redshift surveys and cosmic microwave background radiation.
A Dictionary of Space Exploration
Covers the world of space exploration and every aspect of the technology involved. It explains the jargon used in space exploration, including such weird and wonderful terms as ‘cherry picker’ and ‘burp firing’; it also provides detailed articles on key subjects, such as the Apollo project, and a comprehensive chronology of space missions.
The online version of the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology
Examples of Atlases
Norton's Star Atlas and Reference Handbook
Call Number: QB 64 .R43 2004 (Kelowna)
Atlas of the Messier Objects
Call Number: QB 65 .A8313 2008 (Penticton)
Interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas
Call Number: QB 65 .S8613 2014 (Kelowna)
The Cambridge Photographic Moon Atlas
Call Number: QB 595 .C58 2012 (Kelowna)
Atlas of Great Comets
Call Number: QB 721.4 .S76 2015 (Kelowna)
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