Hi, I'm pretty new in electronics (decades of experience in computing, but close to 0 in electronics, this has to change!).

Why is there a 1K resistor in it?

Why is it a 1K resistor and not a different one?

Why is the resistor at the top and the sensor at the bottom and not the other way around?

I hope I can help others when I get better. For now I'll browse this forum for computing questions I can answer

the 1k resistor is to simply limit the current, the LDR (Light Diode Resistor) is also acting as a resistor, the difference is, the 1k resistor will always be 1k, while the LDR can vary from a few Ohms in bright light or a 100K - into the Millions depending on the manufacturer.

As the LDR gets less light (more resistance), the more of a voltage drop across the LDR (higher the analog in read value to the Arduino).

swap the 1k and LDR around, and you'll have the opposite happens... (in an analog circuit, you'd have it go to a transistor to switch an LED on, in which case swapping around would simply mean having the transistor switch on with a LOW light level or the other way round, have the transistor switch on when it's Bright.

Ohms law will explain this.

http://www.kpsec.freeuk.com/trancirc.htm

if you look at the attached image, you can see how swapping the LDR around you can get 2 different things happening “on when dark” or “on when Light”

Thanks cjdelphi, it’s slowly becoming clearer.

So if I did the setup in http://www.libelium.com/squidbee/index.php?title=Adding_a_light_sensor without the Arduino (just a 5 volts + and a 5 volts - taken from an old power adapter I hacked).
How would I connect it, and where would I put my volt-meter to witness the change in voltage?

I’m guessing +5V would be my +5v of the power adapter.
And I would connect the volt-meter to it too.
Gnd would be my -5 volts of the power adapter.
And the one marked "to an analog input would be connected to the volt-meter’s other cable.
Correct?

I’m trying to see how I would check that things work before connecting the Arduino. I’m trying to define my work methodology as you can see!

I'm guessing +5V would be my +5v of the power adapter. And I would connect the volt-meter to it too. Gnd would be my -5 volts of the power adapter. And the one marked "to an analog input would be connected to the volt-meter's other cable. Correct?

Yes :)

However better to connect your volt meter to ground with the other end of it to the junction of the LDR and resistor.

So if I did the setup in http://www.libelium.com/squidbee/index.php?title=Adding_a_light_sensor without the Arduino (just a 5 volts + and a 5 volts - taken from an old power adapter I hacked).

What is the hacked power adapter as the 5 volt - may be -5V and not GND

A lot of beginners confuse the output of a supply by thinking if it is a 5V supply and it is marked + and - then one is +5V and the other is -5V, it seldom is. However to test this connect the volt meter across the supply and if it reads 10V then you do have a +5V and -5V supply but this is unlikely. If it reads just 5V then you are safe to go ahead as planned.

thanks

What people were actually describing, including the original link, and without specifically calling that, was a "voltage divider". Look at the "Resistive divider" section,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltage_divider

The fixed resistor value is normally chosen so the voltage swing will be centered around some nominal value, such as the voltage divider output at normal room illumination.