Journeys with Stellarman

Journeys with Stellarman

by Francis A. Andrew


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Astronomy has so often been seen as 'the poor man of science;' that misperception however, is thankfully being dispelled as the great strides in scientific discoveries have served to engender an awareness of the close interlinkage between astronomical and terrestrial phenomena. One cannot understand the origin and nature of the Universe without knowledge of the advances currently being made in the field of sub-atomic physics - most especially with regard to the quest for the now not-so-elusive Higgs-Boson particle. Likewise, observation and study of the Universe allows scientists to work within the largest laboratory ever constructed - a laboratory given by nature and at zero cost, yet which provides the means for the study of sub-atomic phenomena at energies beyond what even the best of terrestrial laboratories can produce. It is within this context that Francis Andrew has written "Journeys With Stellarman" with the hope of encouraging the next generation of scientists not to eschew what can only turn out to be a highly rewarding lifetime's career in the astronomical sciences.

Siddhant Bahuguna, India


Francis Andrew has written a truly unique form of book which blends science fiction with the factual data of the astronomical sciences. Its rich mix of fact and fantasy within a literary stylistic form of school-boy humour ensures that it entertains as much as it educates. I see no reason why this book should not be the means by which children are brought to a realisation that astronomy is truly a worthwhile career to pursue and a vocation that is equal to any other which one may care to name.

Giahn Weerasekara, Sri Lanka

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466951372
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 08/09/2012
Pages: 100
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.21(d)

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By Francis A. Andrew

Trafford Publishing

Copyright © 2012 Francis A. Andrew
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4669-5137-2

Chapter One

Tough Assignment

"Wilbur Barnes! For a 12 year old boy you do like to bite off more than you are capable of chewing."

"But Miss Stricto, I'm very interested in astronomy."

"Well, you've chosen your assignment and you'll have to stick to it. And don't try to copy and paste from the internet or copy material out of books, as our Safe-assign Software will soon detect any plagiarism. And that goes for the rest of the class too! Do you all understand me?"

"Yes, Miss Stricto," came the muffled replies.

"Very well. Now you have two weeks to complete the research on your chosen topics. Class dismissed."

Wilbur had the glummest of looks on his face as he went off home, kicking his heels all the way. He soon realised that despite his great enthusiasm for astronomy, he had definitely overstretched himself in choosing to write about different star types. But his teacher, Miss Stricto, would not let him change his topic now.

"Why the miserable look on your face, Wilbur?" his father asked him as the family were seated around the dinner table.

"Have you been causing trouble with Miss Stricto again?" his mother asked.

"He's been too ambitious with his choice of projects and Miss Stricto won't let him change to something simpler," his sister Cathleen giggled.

"Oh shut up Cathleen!" Wilbur burst out.

"You know Mum, everyone at school calls him a fantasist and a dreamboat," continued Cathleen.

"And everyone calls you 'skinny freak,'" retorted her brother.

"Enough you two!" hollered Mr. Barnes.

"Look, Wilbur," began his mother, "what exactly is the problem?"

"Miss Stricto won't let me change my topic assignment."

"And why do you want to change it?"

"Because he discovered that it was too difficult for him," interjected his sister.

"I'll explain to mum, not you, you numbskull."

"That's quite enough fighting, you two," came the authoritative voice of their father.

"Now tell me," said Mrs. Barnes, "why won't Miss Stricto let you change your topic?"

"She said that I have to learn to stick with a topic once I've chosen it," said Wilbur rather ashamedly.

"Well, I agree with Miss Stricto. You can't keep chopping and changing on a whim."

"Now what exactly is your chosen topic Wilbur?" Mr. Barnes asked.

"It's about the different types of stars in the Universe and about how they are born and how they die."

His father gave out a whistle, the kind that usually denotes astonishment. His mother folded her arms, sat back in her chair and rolled her eyes heavenwards. His sister Cathleen simply looked down towards the floor and let out a girlish giggle. Wilbur's reaction was merely to support his head in his hands while his elbows rested on the table. Each member of the family maintained their respective poses for about one minute's duration.

"Well, you certainly over-reached yourself this time, Wilbur," said Mr. Barnes breaking the silence.

"And I don't think he'll ever get himself back again," said Cathleen rather contemptuously.

At that, Wilbur suddenly rose from his chair, banged his fists on the table and said, "I'll show you and I'll show Miss Stricto that I can come up with the information and write an essay on it." With that, Wilbur dashed out of the dining room and upstairs to his room.

"I'll believe it when I see it," his sister called after him.


1.) Write a short essay of approximately 500 words about Earth's closest neighbour, the moon.

2.) Find out as much as you can about Mars and write an essay of around 500 words about this planet.

3.) What do you know about Jupiter? Get as much information as you can about this giant planet and write an essay about it in approximately 500 words.

Use a variety of sources to obtain your information—books, internet, astronomy magazines, TV programmes and science journals.

Chapter Two

An Unexpected Visitor

For about half an hour, Wilbur sat on the side of his bed and thought and thought about how he would tackle this tough assignment. He then crawled into bed and fell asleep while mulling over this project he now felt he had foolishly undertaken.

It would have been about an hour later that he awoke. He did not know why he awoke as he usually slept right through until morning. As he rolled over and tried to get back to sleep again, he heard a strange voice say a rather strange thing.

"O be a fine girl kiss me right now sweetheart." Wilbur sat up in bed with a start! He looked around the room but could see no-one. He tried to get back to sleep again but the same voice uttered the same weird words—"O be a fine girl kiss me right now sweetheart."

"I'll bet that's Cathleen up to her tricks again," said Wilbur as he furiously jumped out of bed. "I'll go through to her room and sort her out!"

"Leave Cathleen to sleep," the mysterious voice commanded him. Wilbur wheeled round to face the other end of his room. Standing next to the window was a sight Wilbur had never seen before. There in front of him was a six foot tall silvery transparent figure glistening and glowing in the moonlight. Wilbur froze to the spot speechless.

"Don't be afraid, Wilbur, I mean you no harm."

At last Wilbur found his voice: "who are you? And what do you want?"

"To help you, Wilbur."

"O be a fine girl kiss me right now sweetheart. Whoever you are, I'm neither a fine nor an 'unfine' girl. In fact, I'm not a girl at all. And I'm not a gay so I don't want to kiss you or be kissed by you."

"Wilbur! You have so much to learn. This is mnemonic for remembering the types of stars in the Universe. Astronomers classify the star types as O B A F G K M R N S."

Wilbur stood agape. His mind began to connect this mysterious being to the tough assignment he had to do.

"My name is Stellarman and I know about your assignment," continued the unexpected visitor.

"But.... uh.... how do you know?" Wilbur stammered.

"The Universe is full of Miss Strictos, Wilbur."

"Oh! So you know about Miss Stricto?"

"I know about many Miss Strictos, and of course I know about your Miss Stricto."

"Wow!" exclaimed Wilbur.

"And, Wilbur, I know exactly how to deal with the Miss Strictos of this Universe."

"Really?" responded Wilbur, a massive almost semi-malicious smile invading the innocence of his chubby boyish countenance. "But there must be millions or billions of Miss Strictos. How can you deal with them all?"

"I can't. The Celestial Council of Galactic Wanderers draws out a Miss Stricto by lot. You were the lucky winner, Wilbur."

"And how exactly are you going to help me, Stellarman?"

"I'm going to take you on a trip around the galaxy and show you the different types of stars."

"Do you have a spacecraft then?"

"No Wilbur, I don't."

"Then how can we journey around the galaxy without a spacecraft?"

"We will travel through the space-time curvatures of the Universe."

"How shall I breathe and how shall I survive the deadly radiation in space?"

"You will be protected within the curvatures, Wilbur. Have no fear. All you need are your pen and notebook. Are you ready?"

"Yes, but just one more thing."

"What's that?"

"By the time I get back to Earth, my parents and sister will be very old—maybe even dead. You know, I eh mean, relativity and all that."

Stellarman laughed and told Wilbur that while time would advance through one kind of Wormhole, it would regress through another.

"All right, I'm ready, let's go," said Wilbur enthusiastically.


1.) What is the mnemonic used by astronomers to aid them in remembering the star types?

2.) Wilbur expresses his worry to Stellarman about radiation in space. What do you know about the Van Allen Belts? Find out what you can about them.

Chapter Three

O Type Stars

"So what should I do now Stellarman?" Wilbur asked.

"Just come and stand near me." Wilbur walked over to Stellarman and stood beside him. Immediately the silvery light which emanated from Stellarman extended outwards to encapsulate Wilbur. At once, Wilbur and Stellarman rose from the floor and went through the window like light through glass. Soon they were flying through the air.

"Oh! Stellarman. It's all true. You really can fly."

"That's right Wilbur, and you can too."

"Why is it so dark Stellarman? I can't see anything, not even stars?"

"That's because we are now inside a wormhole where space and time are curved? But don't worry Wilbur, you'll soon see something to make your eyes pop."

About half a minute later, Wilbur saw before him a massive blue object. He just stood in awe and gazed at it.

"Stellarman! What is that?!" exclaimed Wilbur.

"That Wilbur is an O type star. This particular one we are looking at is called Zeta Orionis. Now get your pen and notebook ready to take down some information on this type of star."

Wilbur scrambled into his school-bag and shuffled around to find his notebook and pen. He then eagerly awaited information from his mysterious guide.

"The O type stars are the largest of all the star types. Their light is mainly in the ultraviolet and they shine one million times brighter than your sun does."

"How hot are they, Stellarman?"

"They can be between 20 to 100 times the size of your sun and their surface temperatures are between 30,000C to 50,000C. These types of star are very rare as they have a lifetime of only between three to six million years."

"Why so short a lifetime?"

"It is because they burn up their hydrogen fuel so very quickly. Only about one in every three million stars in the main sequence are O type stars."

"Stellarman?" said Wilbur looking at his guide quizzically, "what do you mean by the 'main sequence?'"

"After a star has formed from a collapsing cloud of interstellar gas and dust, it enters what is called the main sequence of the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram. This is the stage when the star is converting hydrogen into helium by a process of nuclear fusion. This is what gives a star its light and heat."

"I see Stellarman. But now tell me about the Hetzsprung-Russell Diagram."

"This diagram plots the luminosity of stars against their colour. It was named after two scientists who devised it—Ejnar Hertzsprung and Henry Norris Russell. The vertical axis of the graph shows the luminosity of the stars—your sun being classified by the number 1. It is about half way down the vertical axis. The horizontal axis shows the star types, their spectral class and their surface temperatures. The main sequence stars run along a line which extends from the top left hand corner of the graph down to the bottom right hand corner. The main sequence stars are what are termed the dwarf stars."

"Say Stellarman, are there planets around this star we are looking at now?"

"Planets do not form around O type stars because of a process known as photoevaporation."

"Oh! What is that, Stellarman?"

"Planets are stripped of their atmosphere due to high energy protons and electromagnetic radiation. O stars give off so much radiation that it is very difficult for planetary systems to evolve."

"And because these stars are so short lived, there will simply not be enough time for planets to form, I suppose?"

"You are absolutely right Wilbur."

"What is the fate of an O type star, Stellarman?"

"Well, Wilbur, most of them end their lives in a massive supernova explosion."

"And how does that happen?"

"There are two basic types of supernovae. The first kind when the carbon and oxygen in a white dwarf arrive at a critical density. This causes uncontrolled fusion of carbon and oxygen—the result is an explosion. The second type of supernova is connected to massive stars. When they approach the end of their lives and their fuel is exhausted, they leave behind a huge iron core. This core collapses and causes an explosion."

"So when does a star leave the main sequence, Stellarman?"

"It depends upon the initial mass of the star. The more massive the star, the faster it burns up its hydrogen supply and so the faster it leaves the main sequence to become a supergiant or even a hypergiant."

"So stars are composed mostly of hydrogen?"

"Yes, stars begin their lives with about 70% hydrogen and 28% helium with trace amounts of the heavier metals."

"I see."

"This, I think, is enough for the first night, Wilbur."

"What should I do now, Stellarman?"

"Let's go back to your house."

In a few seconds, Wilbur and Stellarman were flying through the time vortex. Soon they were back in Wilbur's room. To Wilbur's surprise, the time was exactly the same as it had been when he had left on the mysterious journey with Stellarman.

"So, what should I do now Stellarman? We still have all the other stars to visit."

"Use the notes that you took tonight when we visited Zeta Orionis to write up the first part of your project assignment."

"I'll do that at school tomorrow. I hope Miss Stricto will be pleased."

"I hope so too, Wilbur. You know though, the Miss Strictos of this Universe are more often than not very hard to please."

"Don't I just know it, Stellarman, don't I just know it?"

"Now then class," began Miss Stricto the following day, "I hope that you have managed to find some information on the topics which you have chosen."

"Yes, Miss Stricto," answered the class in chorus.

"And did you make notes from the various sources which you consulted?"

"Yes, Miss Stricto," came the same choral reply.

"Very well then class, using your notes, start writing now. You have one hour and fifteen minutes."

One hour and fifteen minutes later, Miss Stricto asked the class to stop writing. Everyone put down their pens and awaited to see what she would say next.

"Now then class," began Miss Stricto, "I would like to ask you about the non-internet sources which you consulted when researching your topic. I am not against anyone using the internet, but we must learn to use sources other than online ones. Now then Jonathon, how did you get obtain your information on railway engines?"

"My uncle is a train driver, so I asked him. He said I can interview some railway staff so as to get even more information."

"Splendid Jonathon. Jemimah, what about you?"

"My topic is about the amount and kinds of sweets children eat. So I have devised a questionnaire and handed it to children in this school and the other schools in the area to fill in and hand back to me."

Miss Stricto went round all the 25 children in the class. The 25th one was Wilbur. She gave him a hard piercing look before she finally put the question to him.

"Now then Wilbur. How are you going to remember all the star types in the galaxy?"

Wilbur took a deep breath but hesitated. He was not quite sure how to put it to Miss Stricto.

"Well Wilbur!" shrieked Miss Stricto, "have you lost your tongue?"

At last, Wilbur blurted out, "O be a fine girl kiss me right now sweetheart."

The class was in a complete uproar with all the pupils in hysterical fits of laughter.

"WILLLLLL BURRRR!!" screamed Miss Stricto from the top of her voice, "how dare you, just, just Ohhhh how dare you!"

"But Miss Stricto," whimpered Wilbur.

"Don't you Miss Stricto me, my boy. Go to the headmaster's office this very instance."

Wilbur shuffled out of the class and down the corridor to the headmaster's office where he explained what had happened in class.

"And whatever possessed you to say such a terrible thing to Miss Stricto?" said the headmaster.

"But Mr. Dizplin, it's not what you think," pleaded Wilbur.

"Then what is it Wilbur?"

Mr. Dizplin listened patiently as the boy expounded upon the mnemonic.

"All right Wilbur, let's go and tell all this to Miss Stricto."

The headmaster and pupil walked along the corridor and entered the class. Mr. Dizplin asked Miss Stricto to come out of the class for a private word. A few minutes later, the teacher re-entered the class and asked Wilbur to explain the meaning of his apparently outrageous words. The class was still tittering away at what had happened ten minutes previously and it took Miss Stricto quite some time to settle them all down.

At the end of the day, Wilbur was the butt of every joke. "Who fancies Miss Stricto then?" "Like them old do you?" "When are you and Miss Stricto going to get married then?" were some of the jibes thrown Wilbur's way.

"Anyway," said Wilbur with a disgusted expression stealing across his countenance, "with a face like a fiddle, as skinny as a rake, her piercing eyes staring at you through those thick rimmed triangular glasses that she wears and her hair up in a bun, who would want to kiss the likes of her?—yuck!"

"WILLBURRR," came a voice screaming from a first floor window, "you horrible little boy. I'll see you in the morning. I'll teach you to choose your words more carefully."

"Sorry, Miss Stricto."

"You will be tomorrow morning Wilbur, you will be!"

Can you help Wilbur?

Stellarman took Wilbur to Zeta Orionis and gave him a lot of information about it. However, Miss Stricto is very strict and she will undoubtedly want more than just one example of an O type star.

So, can you help Wilbur? Do your own research and try to find a few examples of O type stars. Give Wilbur information about their sizes, distances from the Earth, their masses, surface temperatures, ages and composition.

Chapter Four

B Type Stars

"You look rather put out," said Stellarman on his second visit to Wilbur.

"I made a joke about Miss Stricto to the other boys and girls and she overheard me."

"Oh! Don't worry about it Wilbur."

"But she said she's going to see me about it tomorrow."

"Her bark is bigger than her bite. If she mentions it in class, everyone will start laughing and she will only heap more ridicule upon herself."

"I really hope you are right, Stellarman."

"Anyway, forget Miss Stricto and Mr. Dizplin; let's go and visit Regal."

"Who is that?" queried Wilbur with a somewhat puzzled look on his face.

"It's eh a B type star Wilbur," said Stellarman condescendingly.

Stellarman waved his wand and soon he and Wilbur were flying through the time vortex towards Regal.

"It's an amazing star, Stellarman."

"Not quite as big as an O type star—but still very massive.

"How big are they?"

"They range in size from between two to sixteen solar masses."

"Solar masses?"

"This is a way of measuring the sizes of stars by comparing them to your sun. Your astronomers measure a star by saying it is so many times bigger or smaller than the sun."

"So two solar masses means twice the size of the sun and sixteen solar masses means sixteen times the sun's size."

"Absolutely right, Wilbur."

"What kind of surface temperatures do B type stars have?"

"Between 10,000 Kelvin and 30,000 Kelvin. And they are blue in colour."

"And what are they composed of, Stellarman?

"The subclass, B2, show neutral helium in their spectra. They also show a little hydrogen. However, the spectra of the subclass B0 show lines of ionized helium."

"What is 'ionized', Stellarman."

"You know about the table of the elements, don't you Wilbur?"

"Oh yes, our Chemistry teacher, Mr. Toksik, has taught us a lot about it."

"An element becomes ionized when electrons are either added to it or removed from it."

"I see," responded Wilbur. "What other things can you tell me about the stars of this classification?"

"Unlike the sun they do not have a corona."

"What is a corona?"

"A corona is the outer atmosphere of a star—you can see the sun's corona very clearly during a total eclipse. These stars also do not have what is called a convection zone."

"And that is ...?"


Excerpted from JOURNEYS WITH STELLARMAN by Francis A. Andrew Copyright © 2012 by Francis A. Andrew. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Chapter I Tough Assignment....................1
Chapter II An Unexpected Visitor....................4
Chapter III O Type Stars....................8
Chapter IV B Type Stars....................14
Chapter V A Type Stars....................22
Chapter VI F Type Stars....................28
Chapter VII G Type Stars....................38
Chapter VIII K Type Stars....................44
Chapter IX M Type Stars....................49
Chapter X R, N and S Type Stars....................55
Chapter XI Galaxies....................66
Chapter XII Time To Go Home....................77
Chapter XIII Down to Earth....................84

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