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I'm a PhD student in math and am really excited about celestial mechanics.

I was wondering if anyone could give me a roadmap for learning this subject. The amount of information about it on the internet is overwhelming, and I honestly don't know where I should start.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Before answering, please see our policy on resource recommendation questions. Please write substantial answers that detail the style, content, and prerequisites of the book, paper or other resource. Explain the nature of the resource so that readers can decide which one is best suited for them rather than relying on the opinions of others. Answers containing only a reference to a book or paper will be removed!

I'm not a specialist in celestial mechanics, but look at "Mathematical aspects of classical and celestial mechanics" by Arnolʹd, Kozlov, Neishtad. Personally, if I was to learn celestial mechanics, I'd start with it. – Yrogirg Aug 31 '12 at 15:48
up vote 2 down vote accepted

For something so specialized, I'd suggest you read books instead of dive into the big melting pot of confusing information called the internet.

Nevertheless, there are a few good sites. This is certainly one of them.

If you have access to journals, Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy is a good one, as is Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics (although generally more intended for spacecraft orbits etc., it still covers a vast amount of celestial mechanics).

Richard H. Battin has written the classic "An Introduction to the Mathematics and Methods of Astrodynamics". It is rather mathematically inclined, which you might appreciate.

The big names are Poisson, Lagrange, Laplace, Poincare. Google-scholar for them with "celestial mechanics" and you'll get tons of papers, books, and other material.

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Thank you very much, Rody. – Axiom Aug 31 '12 at 16:06
"The Dynamics of an Asteroid" by Moriarty is supposed to be excellent, but it's difficult to locate a copy. – user1631 Aug 31 '12 at 16:09

This book, written by two (prominent) mathematicians, may be of interest to you. I would also follow Rody Oldenhuis' suggestion to look at the research literature and find examples you can work out by yourself and check against references. The mathematics is not very difficult, but the exciting part is in the computations.

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Thank you for you help. – Axiom Aug 31 '12 at 16:07

Apart from reading books about celestial mechanics, may I suggest an incredible computer game, called Kerbal Space Program?

It is incredibly fun to use your knowledge of physics to build stuff in space -- and in process you develop your intuitions and skills around the subject enormously. As XKCD puts it (and, currently working at NASA, I can confirm):

enter image description here

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