Astronomy:A Beginner's Guide to the Universe with MasteringAstronomy: United States Edition

Astronomy:A Beginner's Guide to the Universe with MasteringAstronomy: United States Edition - Eric Chaisson - 9780321598769 - Physics / Astronomy - Astronomy/Astrophysics (170)
Eric Chaisson / Steve McMillan  
Total pages
January 0001
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For one-semester Introduction to Astronomy courses.


With Astronomy: A Beginner’s Guide, Sixth Edition, trusted authors Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan communicate their excitement about astronomy and awaken students to the universe around them. Thoroughly updated, the revised edition focuses on the process of scientific discovery and scientific method, making “how we know what we know” a more integral part of the text with attention to clearly and concisely presenting scientific terms to the non-science student. The authors incorporate three themes in this briefer version of their two textbooks; process of science, the size and scale of the universe as well as the evolution of the universe. A Beginner’s Guide emphasizes critical thinking and visualization, and is now available with a custom tailored leading-edge technology program. 

The Sixth Edition features an even greater focus on the process of science, MasteringAstronomy, and a dedicated myeBook.


  • The Process of Science and The Process of Discovery are both emphasized throughout the text with end-of-chapter Process of Science questions and coverage of the historical development of the discipline, which provides insight into how scientists approach the field. Additionally, the authors have added Process of Science Concept Check questions in margins as relevant throughout the text. 
  • More Precisely Boxes cover quantitative material outside of the running text, allowing faculty the choice as to whether or not to cover these topics.
  • Discovery Boxes cover a variety of interesting topics, highlighting how discoveries were made and providing further insight into how scientific knowledge evolves and emphasizes the process of science.
  • Learning Goals begin each chapter to help students structure their reading and test their mastery of key concepts. The goals are organized and phrased in such a way as to make them objectively testable, affording students a means of gauging their own progress. 
  • Concept Link Icons refer students back to previous sections in the text to help students understand how concepts are related and allow them to more easily see the “big picture.”
  • Concept Checks are critical thinking questions.that allow students reading the chapter for the first time to pause and check their understanding. For students reviewing the chapter, these conceptual questions are a quick quiz.
  • Compound Art uses multiple images to convey the greatest amount of information in the most vivid way.
  • End-of-Chapter Review organized by the Learning Goals with key terms and images.
  • Part Openers are a concise introduction to each part and emphasize the size, scale, and evolution of that portion of the universe. 

New to this Edition

  • End-of-Chapter Process of Science questions have been added.
  • Historical Development of the Discipline is traced more clearly in this edition to help students understand how our knowledge came about and also provides insight into the way scientists approach this field.
  • Photos and explanatory diagrams are paired with each other to help visually dissect what the eye sees and helps students understand the underlying principles involved.
  • A revised text, art, and photo program includes the latest information and imagery.
  • Redesigned Part Openers reflect scale better.
  • Visual Analogies have been redesigned to more clearly relate the topic to an everyday analogy in a visual and intuitive way. 
  • The new content plus myeBook, found in the self-study area in MasteringAstronomy allows users to electronically access their book wherever and whenever they may need it.
  • MasteringAstronomy is the most sophisticated astronomy tutorial and assessment system ever built and will be available with this title in July 2009. It provides both instructor-assigned homework as well as a self-study area with all of the popular Self-Guided Tutorials, new Interactive Figures and Photos, Animations and Videos, quizzes, RSS news feeds that provide up-to-date articles from major astronomy news sources and more. The website also includes new tutorials tied to the learning goals in the text, tutorial problems on the process of science and myeBook (which will be available in September).

Table of Contents


0. Charting the Heavens : The Foundations of Astronomy


1. The Copernican Revolution: The Birth of Modern Science

2. Light and Matter: The Inner Workings of the Cosmos

3. Telescopes: The Tools of Astronomy


4. The Solar System: Interplanetary Matter and the Birth of the Planets

5. Earth and Its Moon: Our Cosmic Backyard

6. The Terrestrial Planets: A Study in Contrasts

7. The Jovian Planets: Giants of the Solar System

8. Moons, Rings, and Plutoids: Small Worlds Among Giants


9. The Sun: Our Parent Star

10. Measuring the Stars: Giants, Dwarfs, and the Main Sequence

11. The Interstellar Medium: Star Formation in the Milky Way

12. Stellar Evolution: The Lives and Deaths of Stars

13. Neutron Stars and Black Holes: Strange States of Matter


14. The Milky Way Galaxy: A Spiral in Space

15. Normal and Active Galaxies: Building Blocks of the Universe

16. Hubble’s Law and Dark Matter: The Large-Scale Structure of the Cosmos

17. Cosmology: The Big Bang and the Fate of the Universe

18. Life in the Universe: Are We Alone?



Eric Chaisson

Eric holds a doctorate in astrophysics from Harvard University, where he spent 10 years on the faculty of Arts and Sciences. For several years thereafter, he was a senior scientist and director of educational programs at the Space Telescope Science Institute and adjunct professor of physics at Johns Hopkins University. For the past decade, Eric has been at Tufts University, where he is a

research professor in the Department of Physics and in the School of Education, and director of the Wright Center for Innovative Science Education. He has written 12 books on astronomy, which have received such literary awards as the Phi Beta Kappa Prize, two American Institute of Physics Awards, and Harvard’s Smith-Weld Prize for Literary Merit. He has published more than 100 scientific papers in professional journals and has also received Harvard’s Bok Prize for original contributions to astrophysics.

Steve McMillan

Steve holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics from Cambridge University and a doctorate in astronomy

from Harvard University. He held post-doctoral positions  at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, where he continued his research in theoretical astrophysics, star clusters, and numerical modeling. Steve is currently Distinguished Professor of Physics at Drexel University and a frequent visiting researcher at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study and the University of Amsterdam. He has published more than 70 scientific papers in professional journals.