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Astronomy 2e - 2e

(21 reviews)

Andrew Fraknoi, Foothill College

David Morrison, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Sidney C. Wolff, National Optical Astronomy Observatories (Emeritus)

Copyright Year: 2022

ISBN 13: 9781951693503

Publisher: OpenStax CNX

Language: English

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Reviewed by Liliana Rivera Sandoval, Assistant professor, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley on 12/5/22

The book covers a great variety of topics, relevant in modern astronomy. They go from Earth to cosmology. The level is appropriate for an introductory course for non-science majors. Each chapter is very complete and well organized. Accompanying... read more

Reviewed by Doug Patterson, Professor, Johnson County Community College on 4/28/22

There are a few subjects which I feel are underrepresented in this text. Most notably, the discussions regarding binary stars is rather terse. I did not find a discussion of the various physical types of binaries (contact, semi-detached, and... read more

Reviewed by Ashley Pagnotta, Assistant Professor, College of Charleston on 9/23/21

This textbook is fairly comprehensive, covering astronomy from its early development in the Middle East to relatively modern discoveries. The breadth and depth seem similar to other intro astro textbooks I have used. One topic I found to be... read more

Reviewed by Michael Marks, Instructor in Astronomy, Bristol Community College on 6/30/21

The book stated mission is to cover astronomy material encountered in both one-part and two-part introductory Astronomy courses. The text succeeds in this mission with 30 chapters of coverage beginning with fundamental ideas and background, then... read more

Reviewed by K. Phillip Nelson, Physics instructor, Virginia Tech on 5/19/21

This book is a clear, conceptual treatise for a two-semester introductory astronomy course. It offers a comprehensive and accurate coverage of the entire scope and scale of astronomical topics – from the core of the Earth to the edges of the... read more

Reviewed by Jens Noeckel, Associate Professor, University of Oregon on 12/3/20

I have used this text for an introductory one-term course on galaxies and cosmology, and am planning to use it for another one-term intro course on the solar system. The text is sufficiently comprehensive to provide ample material for a full-year... read more

Reviewed by Andrea Goering, Instructor, Lane Community College on 6/14/20

This textbook is appropriately comprehensive for an introductory astronomy class. Content is covered at a breadth typical of other intro astronomy textbooks. The index is high-quality (with links back to specific sections). Instead of an overall... read more

Reviewed by Samanthi Wickramarachchi, Instructor, Virginia Commonwealth University on 3/14/20

Overall the textbook is at a very good level for my Elementary Astronomy class, which is a general education requirement course series. Brief Astronomy videos on the student resources are short and will be helpful to link with the lectures to make... read more

Reviewed by Jennifer Carter, Assistant Professor, Susquehanna University on 2/14/20

This astronomy textbook includes content on all of the broad topics one could wish to teach in a general education astronomy course. This allows instructors to design multiple courses using a single textbook, for example one course could focus on... read more

Reviewed by Nilakshi Veerabathina, Associate Prof. of Instructions, University of Texas at Arlington on 1/30/20

The book Astronomy is very comprehensive. It has 30 chapters and almost 1200 pages. This voluminous book covers all the areas of introductory Astronomy in detail and it is usually taught in most universities and colleges over two semesters. The... read more

Reviewed by Latasha Smith, Adjunct Instructor , Central Baptist College on 4/30/19

The text covers all topics and concepts in Introductory Astronomy well. It is nicely separated into 30 chapters which contain topics from "what is astronomy" to astrobiology. read more

Reviewed by Nicholas Abel, Associate Professor of Physics, University of Cincinnati, Clermont College on 3/27/18

The book covers all the topics I would expect a two semester introductory astronomy course to cover. This book could be used to teach both a Solar System Astronomy course, or a Stars & Galaxies course. In addition, someone could simply use... read more

Reviewed by Josh Tan, Asst. Professor, LaGuardia Community College on 2/1/18

Astronomy as far as introductory astronomy texts are concerned is an enormous text that does an admirable job of including almost all the content you could possibly want students to consume over the course of either a one or two semester... read more

Reviewed by Katrina Henry, Assistant Professor, Virginia Wesleyan University on 2/1/18

From ancient astronomy to the recent discovery of gravitational waves this text presents an overview of astronomy from prehistory to present. read more

Reviewed by Paul Morgan, Associate Professor, Umpqua Community College on 6/20/17

The textbook is very comprehensive. From debunking Astrology , to planets and moon in the Solar System, to Stars and galaxies "Astronomy" provides students with excellent depth on many aspects of astronomy. Each chapter has an extensive... read more

Reviewed by Cathy Bunge, Adjunct Faculty, Northern Virginia Community College on 6/20/17

The text covers all areas of Astronomy and provides an excellent discussion of science in general. “In science (after formal education and training), everyone is encouraged to improve upon experiments and to challenge any and all... read more

Reviewed by Rebecca Ericson, Assistant Professor, George Mason University on 6/20/17

The book is comprehensive in topic with depth of coverage suitable for general education students in either a one or two semester course. The text includes chapter outlines and overviews, learning objectives for each section within the chapter,... read more

Reviewed by Stephanie Welch, Instructor, Southeastern Louisiana University on 6/20/17

I found this textbook to be a very comprehensive coverage of Astronomy, but possibly structured a little strangely. read more

Reviewed by Chelsea Tiffany, Physics Instructor, Saint Paul College on 4/11/17

Astronomy by OpenStax covers the basic topics for an introductory astronomy class. This includes night sky, planets, sun, stars (life and death), galaxies and life in the universe. The only topic from my previous book that was not covered as... read more

Reviewed by James Rittenbach, Professor, Rogue Community College on 4/11/17

This text is very comprehensive at nearly 1200 pages for an introductory astronomy text. It covers more topics than any other astronomy text at this level that I have seen. It has thirty solid chapters with each chapter very complete. The... read more

Reviewed by Kenny Tapp, Adjunct Professor, St. Cloud Technical & Community College | Riverland Community College on 12/5/16

This book sufficiently covers all of the topics that are common for an introductory Astronomy course; it includes fundamentals (instruments, observations, radiation, basic physics), solar system (minor bodies, planets, and separate chapter... read more

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Chapter 1  Science and the Universe: A Brief Tour
    • 1.1 The Nature of Astronomy
    • 1.2 The Nature of Science
    • 1.3 The Laws of Nature
    • 1.4 Numbers in Astronomy
    • 1.5 Consequences of Light Travel Time
    • 1.6 A Tour of the Universe
    • 1.7 The Universe on the Large Scale
    • 1.8 The Universe of the Very Small
    • 1.9 A Conclusion and a Beginning
    • For Further Exploration
  • Chapter 2  Observing the Sky: The Birth of Astronomy
    • 2.1 The Sky Above
    • 2.2 Ancient Astronomy
    • 2.3 Astrology and Astronomy
    • 2.4 The Birth of Modern Astronomy
  • Chapter 3. Orbits and Gravity
    • 3.1 The Laws of Planetary Motion
    • 3.2 Newton’s Great Synthesis
    • 3.3 Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation
    • 3.4 Orbits in the Solar System
    • 3.5 Motions of Satellites and Spacecraft
    • 3.6 Gravity with More Than Two Bodies
  • Chapter 4. Earth, Moon, and Sky
    • 4.1 Earth and Sky
    • 4.2 The Seasons
    • 4.3 Keeping Time
    • 4.4 The Calendar
    • 4.5 Phases and Motions of the Moon
    • 4.6 Ocean Tides and the Moon
    • 4.7 Eclipses of the Sun and Moon
  • Chapter 5. Radiation and Spectra
    • 5.1 The Behavior of Light
    • 5.2 The Electromagnetic Spectrum
    • 5.3 Spectroscopy in Astronomy
    • 5.4 The Structure of the Atom
    • 5.5 Formation of Spectral Lines
    • 5.6 The Doppler Effect
  • Chapter 6. Astronomical Instruments
    • 6.1 Telescopes
    • 6.2 Telescopes Today
    • 6.3 Visible-Light Detectors and Instruments
    • 6.4 Radio Telescopes
    • 6.5 Observations outside Earth’s Atmosphere
    • 6.6 The Future of Large Telescopes
  • Chapter 7. Other Worlds: An Introduction to the Solar System
    • 7.1 Overview of Our Planetary System
    • 7.2 Composition and Structure of Planets
    • 7.3 Dating Planetary Surfaces
    • 7.4 Origin of the Solar System
  • Chapter 8. Earth as a Planet
    • 8.1 The Global Perspective
    • 8.2 Earth’s Crust
    • 8.3 Earth’s Atmosphere
    • 8.4 Life, Chemical Evolution, and Climate Change
    • 8.5 Cosmic Influences on the Evolution of Earth
  • Chapter 9. Cratered Worlds
    • 9.1 General Properties of the Moon
    • 9.2 The Lunar Surface
    • 9.3 Impact Craters
    • 9.4 The Origin of the Moon
    • 9.5 Mercury
  • Chapter 10. Earthlike Planets: Venus and Marks
    • 10.1 The Nearest Planets: An Overview
    • 10.2 The Geology of Venus
    • 10.3 The Massive Atmosphere of Venus
    • 10.4 The Geology of Mars
    • 10.5 Water and Life on Mars
    • 10.6 Divergent Planetary Evolution
  • Chapter 11. The Giant Planets
    • 11.1 Exploring the Outer Planets
    • 11.2 The Giant Planets
    • 11.3 Atmospheres of the Giant Planets
  • Chapter 12. Rings, Moons, and Pluto
    • 12.1 Ring and Moon Systems Introduced
    • 12.2 The Galilean Moons of Jupiter
    • 12.3 Titan and Triton
    • 12.4 Pluto and Charon
    • 12.5 Planetary Rings (and Enceladus)
  • Chapter 13. Comets and Asteroids: Debris of the Solar System
    • 13.1 Asteroids
    • 13.2 Asteroids and Planetary Defense
    • 13.3 The “Long-Haired” Comets
    • 13.4 The Origin and Fate of Comets and Related Objects
  • Chapter 14. Cosmic Samples and the Origin of the Solar System
    • 14.1 Meteors
    • 14.2 Meteorites: Stones from Heaven
    • 14.3 Formation of the Solar System
    • 14.4 Comparison with Other Planetary Systems
    • 14.5 Planetary Evolution
  • Chapter 15. The Sun: A Garden-Variety Star
    • 15.1 The Structure and Composition of the Sun
    • 15.2 The Solar Cycle
    • 15.3 Solar Activity above the Photosphere
    • 15.4 Space Weather
  • Chapter 16. The Sun: A Nuclear Powerhouse
    • 16.1 Sources of Sunshine: Thermal and Gravitational Energy
    • 16.2 Mass, Energy, and the Theory of Relativity
    • 16.3 The Solar Interior: Theory
    • 16.4 The Solar Interior: Observations
  • Chapter 17  Analyzing Starlight
    • 17.1 The Brightness of Stars
    • 17.2 Colors of Stars
    • 17.3 The Spectra of Stars (and Brown Dwarfs)
    • 17.4 Using Spectra to Measure Stellar Radius, Composition, and Motion
  • Chapter 18  The Stars: A Celestial Census
    • 18.1 A Stellar Census
    • 18.2 Measuring Stellar Masses
    • 18.3 Diameters of Stars
    • 18.4 The H–R Diagram
  • Chapter 19  Celestial Distances
    • 19.1 Fundamental Units of Distance
    • 19.2 Surveying the Stars
    • 19.3 Variable Stars: One Key to Cosmic Distances
    • 19.4 The H–R Diagram and Cosmic Distances
  • Chapter 20  Between the Stars: Gas and Dust in Space
    • 20.1 The Interstellar Medium
    • 20.2 Interstellar Gas
    • 20.3 Cosmic Dust
    • 20.4 Cosmic Rays
    • 20.5 The Life Cycle of Cosmic Material
    • 20.6 Interstellar Matter around the Sun
  • Chapter 21  The Birth of Stars and the Discovery of Planets outside the Solar System
    • 21.1 Star Formation
    • 21.2 The H–R Diagram and the Study of Stellar Evolution
    • 21.3 Evidence That Planets Form around Other Stars
    • 21.4 Planets beyond the Solar System: Search and Discovery
    • 21.5 Exoplanets Everywhere: What We Are Learning
    • 21.6 New Perspectives on Planet Formation
  • Chapter 22  Stars from Adolescence to Old Age
    • 22.1 Evolution from the Main Sequence to Red Giants
    • 22.2 Star Clusters
    • 22.3 Checking Out the Theory
    • 22.4 Further Evolution of Stars
    • 22.5 The Evolution of More Massive Stars
  • Chapter 23  The Death of Stars
    • 23.1 The Death of Low-Mass Stars
    • 23.2 Evolution of Massive Stars: An Explosive Finish
    • 23.3 Supernova Observations
    • 23.4 Pulsars and the Discovery of Neutron Stars
    • 23.5 The Evolution of Binary Star Systems
    • 23.6 The Mystery of the Gamma-Ray Bursts
  • Chapter 24  Black Holes and Curved Spacetime
    • 24.1 Introducing General Relativity
    • 24.2 Spacetime and Gravity
    • 24.3 Tests of General Relativity
    • 24.4 Time in General Relativity
    • 24.5 Black Holes
    • 24.6 Evidence for Black Holes
    • 24.7 Gravitational Wave Astronomy
  • Chapter 25  The Milky Way Galaxy
    • 25.1 The Architecture of the Galaxy
    • 25.2 Spiral Structure
    • 25.3 The Mass of the Galaxy
    • 25.4 The Center of the Galaxy
    • 25.5 Stellar Populations in the Galaxy
    • 25.6 The Formation of the Galaxy
  • Chapter 26  Galaxies
    • 26.1 The Discovery of Galaxies
    • 26.2 Types of Galaxies
    • 26.3 Properties of Galaxies
    • 26.4 The Extragalactic Distance Scale
    • 26.5 The Expanding Universe
  • Chapter 27  Active Galaxies, Quasars, and Supermassive Black Holes
    • 27.1 Quasars
    • 27.2 Supermassive Black Holes: What Quasars Really Are
    • 27.3 Quasars as Probes of Evolution in the Universe
  • Chapter 28  The Evolution and Distribution of Galaxies
    • 28.1 Observations of Distant Galaxies
    • 28.2 Galaxy Mergers and Active Galactic Nuclei
    • 28.3 The Distribution of Galaxies in Space
    • 28.4 The Challenge of Dark Matter
    • 28.5 The Formation and Evolution of Galaxies and Structure in the Universe
  • Chapter 29  The Big Bang
    • 29.1 The Age of the Universe
    • 29.2 A Model of the Universe
    • 29.3 The Beginning of the Universe
    • 29.4 The Cosmic Microwave Background
    • 29.5 What Is the Universe Really Made Of?
    • 29.6 The Inflationary Universe
    • 29.7 The Anthropic Principle
  • Chapter 30  Life in the Universe
    • 30.1 The Cosmic Context for Life
    • 30.2 Astrobiology
    • 30.3 Searching for Life beyond Earth
    • 30.4 The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
  • Appendices

Ancillary Material

  • OpenStax CNX
  • About the Book

    Designed to meet the scope and sequence of your course, Astronomy 2e is written in clear non-technical language, with the occasional touch of humor and a wide range of clarifying illustrations. It has many analogies drawn from everyday life to help non-science majors appreciate, on their own terms, what our modern exploration of the universe is revealing. The book can be used for either a one-semester or two-semester introductory course.

    The second edition has been updated according to new exploration and discoveries. The second edition also includes a significant amount of new art and images. The first edition of Astronomy by OpenStax is available in web view here.

    About the Contributors


    Andrew Fraknoi retired as Chair of the Astronomy Department at Foothill College in 2017 and now teaches courses for older adults at the University of San Francisco and San Francisco State University. He served as the Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific from 1978–1992. His work with the society included editing Mercury Magazine, the Universe in the Classroom newsletter, and Astronomy Beat. He is editor/co-author of The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0, a collection of teaching activities, and co-author of Solar Science, a book for middle-school teachers. He was also co-author of a syndicated newspaper column on astronomy, and appears regularly on local and national radio. With Sidney Wolff, he was founder of the refereed journal, Astronomy Education Review. In addition, he has organized six national symposia on teaching introductory astronomy, and for 10 years, has led the AAS Ambassadors workshops, training young astronomers to be better at outreach. He received the AAS Education Award, the Klumpke-Roberts Prize of the ASP, the Gemant Prize of the American Institute of Physics, and the Faraday Award of the NSTA.

    David Morrison received his PhD in astronomy from Harvard, where he was one of Carl Sagan’s graduate students. He is a founder of the field of astrobiology and is known for research on small bodies in the solar system (Asteroid 2410 Morrison is named for him). He spent his early career at University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, where he was Director of the IRTF at Maunakea Observatory. Morrison has held senior NASA positions including Director of Space Research at Ames Research Center, Chief of the Space Science Division, and founding Director of the Lunar Science Institute. He’s been on science teams for the Voyager, Galileo, and Kepler missions, and he received NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals and Exceptional Achievement Medal. His contributions to public understanding of science have been recognized by education prizes from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the American Astronomical Society, and NASA. Committed to the struggle against pseudoscience, he serves as Contributing Editor of Skeptical Inquirer.

    After receiving her PhD from the UC Berkeley, Dr. Sidney C. Wolff was involved with the astronomical development of Maunakea. In 1984, she became the Director of Kitt Peak National Observatory, and was director of National Optical Astronomy Observatory. She led the design and development phases of the Gemini Observatory and the Rubin Observatory. Most recently, she has worked on plans for user support for the next generation of large ground-based telescopes. Dr. Wolff has published over ninety refereed papers on star formation and stellar atmospheres. She has served as President of the AAS and the ASP. Her book, The Boundless Universe: Astronomy in the New Age of Discovery, won the 2016 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) Silver Medal in Science.

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