I'm doing Astronomy as a GCSE (at high/secondary school) and the teacher often goes above the course, and we (the students) often ask above what the course requires. But because its a GCSE there's a timeline, so sadly we can't spend a week on each subject.

Wikipedia is great, but for things like physics, to understand an article you need to read all the articles it links to and so on, it doesn't give the straight forward explanations/answers that class and stack exchange sites do.

So basically can astronomy questions be asked here? Such as 'Whats the difference between a neutron star and a pulsar?' or '[How] does the mass of a planet orbiting a star affect it's orbit?'


My first reaction is that the first example doesn't belong and the second example does.

My reasoning isn't so solid but it goes like this: the first is sort of an astronomical classification issue, which should really go in the yet-to-be astronomy stack site. The second is more of a "what is the physics behind this astronomical phenomenon?" which is, of course, physics.

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    $\begingroup$ That was my thinking as well, which is why I asked about those 2 questions. Although I expected your answer, it's annoying because now I have to wait another 2000 years before the astronomy proposal gets anywhere near 100%. I wish that this site and that proposal were combined because they very close subjects. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Nov 2 '10 at 21:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonathan: As long as Astronomy is not even in beta we must basically pretend it does not exist. And therefore Astronomy questions that are physics related should be welcome here (and maybe migrated if Astro.SE succeeds, too). $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Nov 2 '10 at 22:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Tobias So does that mean my first example is included because I am dying to ask a very similar question. $\endgroup$ – Jonathan. Nov 2 '10 at 22:33
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonathan: I'd say go ahead and ask, adding a comment linking to this meta question so those who don't agree can discuss it properly here. IMHO since there currently is no astro.SE we are the closest thing to it. But the "not too basic" rule still applies, if you can find the answer basically at wikipedia or in a standard textbook as well, you'd need to add an explanation why that answer is not sufficient. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Nov 2 '10 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ I would argue, though, that the scope of this site should not depend on which other SE sites are active. It seems more reasonable to me to decide whether a question is appropriate here or not based on its own merit, and not by considering whether there happens to be another place for it. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 3 '10 at 4:32
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    $\begingroup$ @David Zaslavsky: that's a good point. Basically we should assume that even if a question could be asked elsewhere, the OP asked it here because they wanted to hear a Physicists answer. (That is of course no excuse for complete off-topic questions) $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kienzler Nov 4 '10 at 22:45

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