Read more about Astronomy


(19 reviews)

Andrew Fraknoi, Foothill College

David Morrison, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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

Copyright Year: 2016

ISBN 13: 9781938168284

Publisher: OpenStax CNX

Language: English

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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

  • 1 Science and the Universe: A Brief Tour
  • 2 Observing the Sky: The Birth of Astronomy
  • 3 Orbits and Gravity
  • 4 Earth, Moon, and Sky
  • 5 Radiation and Spectra
  • 6 Astronomical Instruments
  • 7 Other Worlds: An Introduction to the Solar System
  • 8 Earth as a Planet
  • 9 Cratered Worlds
  • 10 Earthlike Planets: Venus and Mars
  • 11 The Giant Planets
  • 12 Rings, Moons, and Pluto
  • 13 Comets and Asteroids: Debris of the Solar System
  • 14 Cosmic Samples and the Origin of the Solar System
  • 15 The Sun: A Garden-Variety Star
  • 16 The Sun: A Nuclear Powerhouse
  • 17 Analyzing Starlight
  • 18 The Stars: A Celestial Census
  • 19 Celestial Distances
  • 20 Between the Stars: Gas and Dust in Space
  • 21 The Birth of Stars and the Discovery of Planets outside the Solar System
  • 22 Stars from Adolescence to Old Age
  • 23 The Death of Stars
  • 24 Black Holes and Curved Spacetime
  • 25 The Milky Way Galaxy
  • 26 Galaxies
  • 27 Active Galaxies, Quasars, and Supermassive Black Holes
  • 28 The Evolution and Distribution of Galaxies
  • 29 The Big Bang
  • 30 Life in the Universe

Ancillary Material

  • OpenStax CNX
  • About the Book

    Astronomy is designed to meet the scope and sequence requirements of one- or two-semester introductory astronomy courses. The book begins with relevant scientific fundamentals and progresses through an exploration of the solar system, stars, galaxies and cosmology. The Astronomy textbook builds student understanding through the use of relevant analogies, clear and non-technical explanations, and rich illustrations. Mathematics is included in a flexible manner to meet the needs of individual instructors.


    About the Contributors


    Andrew Fraknoi is Chair of the Astronomy Department at Foothill College and served as the Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific from 1978–1992. His work with the society included editing Mercury Magazine, Universe in the Classroom, and Astronomy Beat. He’s taught at San Francisco State University, Canada College, and the University of California Extension. 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 co-author of a syndicated newspaper column on astronomy, and appears regularly on local and national radio. With Sidney Wolff, he was founder of Astronomy Education Review. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the SETI Institute and on the Lick Observatory Council. In addition, he has organized six national symposia on teaching introductory astronomy. He received the Klumpke-Roberts Prize of the ASP, the Gemant Award of the American Institute of Physics, and the Faraday Award of the NSTA.

    David Morrison is a Senior Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center. He 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. He spent 17 years at University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy and the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He was Director of the IRTF at Mauna Kea Observatory. Morrison has held senior NASA positions including Chief of the Ames Space Science Division and founding Director of the Lunar Science Institute. He’s been on science teams for the Voyager, Galileo, and Kepler missions. Morrison received NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals and the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal. He was awarded the AAS Carl Sagan medal and the ASP Klumpke-Roberts prize. Committed to the struggle against pseudoscience, he serves as Contributing Editor of Skeptical Inquirer and on the Advisory Council of the National Center for Science Education.

    After receiving her PhD from the UC Berkeley, Dr. Wolff was involved with the astronomical development of Mauna Kea. In 1984, she became the Director of Kitt Peak National Observatory, and was director of National Optical Astronomy Observatory. Most recently, she led the design and development of the 8.4-meter Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. 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 recently published book, The Boundless Universe: Astronomy in the New Age of Discovery, won the 2016 IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards) Silver Medal in Science.