Library Subject Guides

Astronomy and Astrophysics: Books  

What Are Call Numbers?

Call numbers explained

High Demand

Textbooks and recommended readings are often put on short-term loan in the High Demand collection.

Search for your course code:


If you cannot find it at UC Library or online, request an Interloan and we will get it for you from another library. There is no charge for this service

Google Books

A good way to find out whether the details you seek are located in a book. Search previews of books and some full text of out-of-copyright titles; search terms are highlighted in results.

Google Book Search
Books and Ebooks

  • Since 2024 the Library Catalogue has only included books and ebooks purchased by UC Library. It omits hundreds of thousands of ebook titles ‘leased’ through library subscriptions.

Library of Congress Classification for Astronomy and Astrophysics books

Most Astronomy & Astrophysics books in the UC Library are shelved in the QB section of the EPS Library. The Library uses the Library of Congress Classification System for classification and shelving.

QB 1–991 Astronomy
1–139 General
15–34 History
35–36 Biography
54 Extraterrestrial Life
61–62 Study and Teaching, Research
63 Stargazers’ Guides
64 Observers’ Handbooks
81–84 Observatories
85–115 Astronomical Instruments
140–237 Practical and Spherical Astronomy
201 Geodetic Astronomy
209–224 Time
224.5–237 Longitude and Latitude
275–343 Geodesy
301–328 Geodetic Surveying
330–339 Gravity Determinations
349–421 Theoretical Astronomy and Celestial Mechanics
414–419 Theory of Tides
455–456 Astrogeology
460–466 Astrophysics (General)
468–480 Non-Optical Methods of Astronomy
495–903 Descriptive Astronomy
500.5–785 Solar System
520–544 Sun
541–544 Solar Eclipses
611 Mercury
621 Venus
630–638 Earth as Planet
641 Mars
651 Asteroids
661 Jupiter
671 Saturn
681 Uranus
691 Neptune
701 Pluto
717–732 Comets
740–753 Meteors
754.8–792 Meteorites
799–843 Stars
851–855 Clusters and Nebulae
856–903 Galaxies
980–991 Cosmogony, Cosmology

Call Numbers Explained

Find a Book on the Shelf

To find a book on the Library shelves you will need to know its call number. Call numbers are printed on the spine of the book and are also listed in the Library Catalogue. They tell you where the book is located in the library.

The University of Canterbury library, like most academic libraries, uses the Library of Congress Classification system. In this system, the call numbers start with letters of the alphabet.

  • The first letter refers to the subject area, e.g. Q – Science
  • Sometimes another letter is added to refer to a more specific aspect of the subject, e.g. QD – Chemistry

Reading Call Numbers: Library of Congress Classification System

Read the call number line by line:

  • Read the first line in alphabetical order.
  • The first set of numbers that follow are read as whole numbers and are arranged numerically on the shelves.


This diagram explains how Library of Congress call numbers work on the library shelves:


Call Numbers

(This image was produced by librarians at the University of Maryland Libraries (User Education Services), College Park, MD.)

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