Last modified on 4 January 2014, at 16:39

Laboratory Experiments in Physics for Modern Astronomy

Laboratory Exercises in Physics for Modern Astronomy: With Comprehensive Development of the Physical Principles is a college textbook[1] published by Springer/Verlag and written by Dr. Leslie M. Golden of Oak Park, Illinois, USA. It was given a 4-star review by Michael Vollmer in Physics Education.[2]

Technical specificationsEdit

500 pages; Hardcover, ISBN 978-1-4614-3310-1 Content Level: Upper undergraduate

Keywords: astronomy laboratory textbook - physics laboratory textbook - planetary science experiments - radar astronomy - space program experiments


The book teaches much of the physics relevant to astronomy, providing clear and often humorous exercises. Presents physics experiments using radio, radar and optical astronomy techniques applied in the modern exploration of the solar system This book presents experiments which will teach physics relevant to astronomy. The astronomer, as instructor, frequently faces this need when his college or university has no astronomy department and any astronomy course is taught in the physics department. The physicist, as instructor, will find this intellectually appealing when faced with teaching an introductory astronomy course. From these experiments, the student will acquire important analytical tools, learn physics appropriate to astronomy, and experience instrument calibration and the direct gathering and analysis of data. Experiments that can be performed in one laboratory session as well as semester-long observation projects are included.

Table of contentsEdit

Mathematical Tools.
Graphing Techniques.
The Optics of Telescopes: Image Size and Brightness.
The Optics of Telescopes.
Magnification and Chromatic Aberration.

Earth: The Seasons and Local Latitude.
The Surface Roughness of the Moon: Specular and Diffuse Reflection from a Planetary Surface.
Determination of the Rotation Rate of Planets and Asteroids by Radar.
Mercury and Calibration.
Determination of the Rotation Rate of Planets and Asteroids by Radar.
Simulated Planets.
The Orbit of Venus.
Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion.
The Galilean Satellites of Jupiter.
Remote Sensing of Planetary Surfaces.
Calibration and Initial Measurements.
Remote Sensing of Planetary Surfaces.
Soil Sample Measurements.

Blackbody Radiation.
The Surface Temperature and Energy Output of the Sun.
The Theory of Atomic Spectra: The Balmer Lines.
Discovering the Nature of Objects in Space: Kirchhoff's Laws of Radiation.


Leslie Morris Golden received the B.A. with Distinction and Masters in Engineering Physics from Cornell University, where he performed his masters’ thesis on erosion of lunar craters by micrometeorite impacts under Bruce Hapke and studied radio astronomy with Frank Drake. He was the award-winning editor-in-chief of the Cornell Engineer magazine. He received the M.A. and Ph.D in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked with Leland Cunningham on the software for calculations of comet orbits, Carl Heiles on the HI map of the galaxy, and W.H. McCrea on isotropy of radio source counts with position over the sky. He performed his dissertation, a microwave interferometric study of the subsurface of the planet Mercury, under William J. (“Jack”) Welch. The models he developed form the basis for many thermophysical models of planetary surfaces currently employed. He obtained a National Research Council Resident Research Associateship grant to continue studies of Mercury at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory under Michael Janssen and studied the time variability of quasars with E.E. Epstein at the Aerospace Corporation before obtaining his academic appointment at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he became affiliated with both the physics department and the Honors College.

In 1986 Dr. Golden was selected by Royal Cruise Lines to be their on-board lecturer on the high seas during the 1986 apparition of Halley’s Comet and in 1996 he was a visiting professor on the University of Pittsburgh’s Semester at Sea program. Among his many public speaking appearances, he was the featured speaker on the occasion of the dedication of the new wing of Chicago’s Adler Planetarium. Dr. Golden’s research and scholarly interests are planetary radio astronomy, observational selection effects, cosmology, and the history of astronomy. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi (engineering), Phi Beta Kappa (arts and sciences), and Pi Delta Epsilon (journalism).

Les Golden has additional careers as a professional trumpet player, stand-up comedian, and professional actor. He has over 100 stage, screen, radio, television, and commercial credits. At the University of California, he was a jazz disk jockey, the play-by-play announcer for California Golden Bears basketball, and one of the founders, a trumpet player and vocalist, and the emcee for the University of California Jazz Ensembles. He also applies probability and statistics to popular casino games as a columnist for four London-based gambling magazines. [3][4] He also suggested a stepwise betting strategy to reduce the effects.[5][6][7] He is a passionate animal welfare advocate and fervent environmentalist and shares his home with his rescued canine friends.


  2. (2013) Vollmer, Michael, “Physics and astronomy meet in book of experiments,” Physics Education, v. 48, no. 4, p. 534-535;;jsessionid=6530B374440A8BBC9B63245D60D284DF.c1;
  3. Golden, Les (2010). “Countering the Casino Countering of Counters: The Golden Diagram to the Rescue,” Bluff Europe, June, p. 84-85
  4. Golden, Les (2011). “Trust Me: An Undetectable Winning System For Blackjack! ,” Bluff Europe, March, p. 94-95
  5. Golden, Leslie M. (2011). “An Analysis of the Disadvantage to Players of Multiple Decks in the Game of 21.” The Mathematical Scientist, 32, 2, p. 57-69
  7. Golden, Les (2011). “Stepping Out With My Baby: The Stepwise Betting Strategy,” Bluff Europe, April, p. 92-93