The skies and the stars have always played a major role in the lives of humankind. Even in prehistoric times the observation of the heavens and the stars allowed communities to mark the passage of time and the alternation of the seasons, determine the most propitious periods for sowing crops, and guide sailors during their sea voyages. This is why it was thought that the skies and celestial bodies were also linked to divinities. Thanks to increasingly sophisticated instruments, today we can analyze the properties of light emitted by stars, infer the characteristics of the matter comprising stellar atmospheres, and record their radiation in great detail. This book provides an overview of our current knowledge about stars, but also outlines the near future of stellar astronomy, the development of increasingly advanced telescopes, and the study of galaxies other than our own.
Giuseppina Micela, an astrophysicist, has directed the Palermo Observatory since 2011. Her research interests focus on young stars and extra-solar planets. She has directed several European research projects and written numerous articles in international science journals.