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The Cosmic Perspective / Edition 6

The Cosmic Perspective / Edition 6

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In this accessible, student-friendly text, astronomy is treated as a fundamental human endeavor rather than an enterprise reserved for professionals. The authors engage readers' curiosity through cutting-edge material that focuses on the themes of human achievement, physics in the universe, continuity of matter, the dynamic systems that sustain life, and astronomy and physics as foundations for our world view. Text discussions are complemented by a distinctive art program, with figures not seen before in astronomy texts. A rich website includes resources and coverage of current events.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780321633668
Publisher: Addison-Wesley
Publication date: 12/16/2009
Series: Pearson Custom Library: Physics and Astronomy Series
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 832
Product dimensions: 8.40(w) x 10.70(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jeffrey Bennett, a recipient of the American Institute of Physics Science Communication Award, holds a B.A. in biophysics (UC San Diego) and an M.S. and Ph.D. in astrophysics (University of Colorado). He specializes in science and math education and has taught at every level from preschool through graduate school. Career highlights include serving 2 years as a visiting senior scientist at NASA headquarters, where he developed programs to build stronger links between research and education, proposing and helping to develop the Voyage scale model solar system on the National Mall (Washington, DC) and developing the free app Totality by Big Kid Science to help people learn about total solar eclipses. He is the lead author oftextbooks in astronomy, astrobiology, mathematics, and statistics and of critically acclaimed books for the public including Beyond UFOs (Princeton University Press), Math for Life (Bid Kid Science), What Is Relativity? (Columbia University Press), On Teaching Science (Big Kid Science), and A Global Warming Primer (Big Kid Science). He is also the author of six science picture books for children, titled Max Goes to Mars, Max Goes to Jupiter, Max Goes to the Space Station, Max Goes to the Moon, The Wizard Who Saved the World, and I, Humanity; all six have been launched to the International Space Station and read aloud by astronauts for NASA’s Story Time From Space program. His personal website is

Megan Donahue is a full professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University (MSU), a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and President of the American Astronomical Society (2018—2020). Her research focuses on using x-ray, UV, infrared, and visible light to study galaxies and clusters of galaxies: their contents–dark matter, hot gas, galaxies, active galactic nuclei–and what they reveal about the contents of the universe and how galaxies form and evolve. She grew up on a farm in Nebraska and received an S.B. in physics from MIT, where she began her research career as an x-ray astronomer. She has a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Colorado. Her Ph.D. thesis on theory and optical observations of intergalactic and intracluster gas won the1993 Robert Trumpler Award from the Astronomical Society for the Pacific for an outstanding astrophysics doctoral dissertation in North America. She continued postdoctoral research as a Carnegie Fellow at Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, and later as an STScI Institute Fellow at Space Telescope. Megan was a staff astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute until 2003, when she joined the MSU faculty. She is also actively involved in advising national and international astronomical facilities and NASA, including planning future NASA missions. Megan is married to Mark Voit, and they collaborate on many projects, including this textbook, over 70 peer reviewed astrophysics papers, and the nurturing of their children, Michaela, Sebastian, and Angela. Megan has run three full marathons, including Boston. These days she runs trails with friends, orienteers, and plays piano and bass guitar for fun and no profit.

Nicholas Schneider is a full professor in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado and a researcher in the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. He received his B.A. in physics and astronomy from Dartmouth College in 1979and his Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Arizona in 1988. His research interests include planetary atmospheres and planetary astronomy. One research focus is the odd case of Jupiter’s moon Io. Another is the mystery of Mars’s lost atmosphere, which he is helping to answer by leading the Imaging UV Spectrograph team on NASA’s MAVEN mission now orbiting Mars. Nick enjoys teaching at all levels and is active in efforts to improve undergraduate astronomy education. Over his career he has received the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Boulder Faculty Assembly’s Teaching Excellence Award, and NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal. Off the job, Nick enjoys exploring the outdoors with his family and figuring out how things work.

Mark Voit is a full professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies at Michigan State University. He earned his A.B. in astrophysical sciences at Princeton University and his Ph.D. in astrophysics at the University of Colorado in 1990. He continued his studies at the California Institute of Technology, where he was a research fellow in theoretical astrophysics, and then moved on to Johns Hopkins University as a Hubble Fellow. Before going to Michigan State, Mark worked in the Office of Public Outreach at the Space Telescope, where he developed museum exhibitions about the Hubble Space Telescope and helped design NASA’s award-winning Hubble Site. His research interests range from interstellar processes in our own galaxy to the clustering of galaxies in the early universe, and he is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is married to coauthor Megan Donahue and cooks terrific meals for her and their three children. Mark likes getting outdoors whenever possible and particularly enjoys running, mountain biking, canoeing, orienteering, and adventure racing. He is also author of the popular book Hubble Space Telescope: New Views of the Universe.

Table of Contents


1. Our Place in the Universe.
2. Discovering the Universe for Yourself.
3. The Science of Astronomy.
S1. Celestial Timekeeping and Navigation.


4. A Universe of Matter and Energy.
5. Universal Motion.
6. Light: The Cosmic Messenger.
7. Telescopes: Portals of Discovery.


8. Our Solar System: An Introduction and Overview.
9. Formation of the Solar System.
10. Planetary Geology: Earth and the Other Terrestrial Worlds.
11. Planetary Atmospheres: Earth and the Other Terrestrial Worlds.
12. Jovian Planet Systems.
13. Remnants of Rock and Ice: Asteroids, Comets, and Pluto.
14. Planet Earth and Its Lessons on Life in the Universe.


S2. Space and Time.
S3. Spacetime and Gravity.
S4. Building Blocks of the Universe.


15. Our Star.
16. Stars.
17. Star Stuff.
18. The Bizarre Stellar Graveyard.


19. Our Galaxy.
20. Galaxies: From Here to the Horizon.
21. Galaxy Evolution.
22. Dark Matter and the Fate of the Universe.
23. The Beginning of Time.
24. Life in the Universe.
Appendix A: A Few Mathematical Skills.
Appendix B: The Periodic Table of the Elements.
Appendix C: Planetary Data.
Appendix D: Stellar Data.
Appendix E:Constants.
Appendix F: Key Equations.
Star Charts.

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