About The Site

AstroPictionary was created to help explain advanced astronomy concepts in a simple to approach way. The articles and YouTube videos present a dictionary of terms that are approachable by all ‘star skill-levels’. I routinely publish articles that go over everything from stars to black holes, check back in and you never know what you will find.

About the Author

  • Michele M. Montgomery earned a B.S. Degree in Nuclear/Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University, an M.S. Degree in Physics from The University of Alabama with a concentration in Solar Physics, and a Ph.D Degree in Physics from Florida Institute of Technology with a concentration in close binary star systems. She joined the faculty at The University of Central Florida Physics Department in 2004 where she regularly taught astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology to more than 10,000  students. 
  • In 2006, she jointed Valencia College, a college nearby to UCF that has more than 60,000 students. East Campus did not have any astronomy, and thus Dr. Montgomery began a program in 2006. Dr. Montgomery still teaches four courses of astronomy each fall, spring, and summer semesters. 
  • Dr. Montgomery has taught physics and astronomy at The University of Alabama, UCF, Valencia College, and Eastern Florida State College. She teaches astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, conceptual physics, algebra-based physics, and/or calculus-based  physics as well as physics labs.  Her research is in numerical simulations of close binary star systems and observations using space and ground-based telescopes of these star systems. She has observed using NASA Kepler space telescope, Kitt Peak ground-based telescope in Arizona USA, Keck ground-based telescope in Hawaii USA, and Gemini South in Chile.
  • Close binary stars are stars that are closer than Mercury is to the Sun. In the sky, the stars look like one celestial object. But one is usually pulling on the other, with one star gaining in mass while the other star is losing its mas; the losing star looks like a balloon squeezing its mass out the neck of the balloon (red object in attached image) and the other star looks like a flat disk as the other stars mass coming out the neck of the balloon slowly spirals in (see blue object of attached iimage). Many observational events can occur such as nova and other types of outbursts as well as supernova. To see and study these events, ground-based telescopes and space-based telescopes are needed. Data collected from these telescopes are used to verify numerical simulation results. For example, observations show a regular light signal that repeats with a shorter period than the time the system takes to orbit once. Dr. Montgomery was the first to recreate this light signal pattern using numerical simulations: In the numerical simulations, the accretion disk wobbles like the precession of a gyroscope; as the disk wobbles, light from the disk appears to repeatedly get bright and dim from the point of view of the observer. Dr. Montgomery studies the blinking light patters from these objects to better understand the dynamics occurring within these systems.
  • Besides research and teaching, Dr. Montgomery writes portions of textbooks with co-authors (e.g., Cengage Horizon’s Hybrid) and as a silent co-author (e.g., Cengage Universe, Cengage Horizons, and Cengage Foundations of Astronomy). She also co-authors her own solo textbook in Astronomy, Astronomy Essentials, that is published with Apple Books, Morton Publishing, Fountainhead Press, Top Hat Publishing. Most traditional textbooks are not very interactive; having taught more than 10,000 students, Dr. Montgomery wanted to revolutionize the way textbook content is delivered to today’s student. Thus, Dr. Montgomery launched Astronomy Essentials, a video- and simulation-based textbook and YouTube channel AstroPictionary, which is a video-based glossary in support of the video-and simulation-based Astronomy Essentials textbook.
  • Michele Montgomery is an avid hiker and aerobics instructor. She likes hiking with groups of people and teaching fitness to groups.


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