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Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals, The, CourseSmart eTextbook

By Jeffrey O. Bennett, Megan O. Donahue, Nicholas Schneider, Mark Voit

Published by Addison-Wesley

Published Date: Oct 2, 2009

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The Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals is the briefest introduction to astronomy in the Bennett series. It is designed to engage students and motivate them to learn about astronomy and scientific inquiry. 

  • Topical Coverage is focused on topics that students are curious about and that are most requested by faculty, such as extrasolar planets, the search for life in the universe, black holes, and dark matter and energy.
  • The Process of Science is emphasized throughout the text,and each chapter has a full section devoted to exploring a case study on how the process of science has helped astronomers learn more about the topics in a given chapter.
  • Active Learning is encouraged throughout the text. In-text “Think About It” questions prompt students to think more deeply about the material as they read. See It for Yourself questions encourage students to perform simple astronomy-related activities.

This text covers the key topics found in other one-semester astronomy books, but treats them with less detail, giving professors the opportunity to supplement the book with outside readings, articles, videos, and activities of their choice.


For those professors concerned about the price of textbooks, The Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals is the most affordable book on the market, without sacrificing the quality of its content or art program. 


CourseSmart textbooks do not include any media or print supplements that come packaged with the bound book.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: A Modern View of the Universe

1.1     Our Place in the Universe

•  What is our place in the universe?

•  How big is the universe?

Tools of Science: Doing the Math

1.2     A Brief History of the Universe

•  How did we come to be?

•  How do our lifetimes compare to the age of the universe?

1.3     The Process of Science in Action: Defining Planets

•  What is a planet?


Chapter 2: Understanding the Sky

2.1    Understanding the Seasons

•  What causes the seasons?

•  Why do the constellations we see depend on the time of year?

Tools of Science: Angular Sizes and Distances

2.2     Understanding the Moon

•  Why do we see phases of the Moon?

•  What causes eclipses?

2.3     The Process of Science in Action: The Puzzle of Planetary Motion

•  Why did the ancient Greeks reject the real explanation for planetary motion?


Chapter 3: Changes in Our Perspective

3.1     From Earth-centered to Sun-centered

•  How did the Greeks explain planetary motion?

•  How did the Copernican revolution change our view of the universe?

Tools of Science: Telescopes

3.2     Hallmarks of Science

•  How can we distinguish science from nonscience?

•  What is a scientific theory?

3.3     The Process of Sience in Action: The Fact and Theory of Gravity

•  How does the fact of gravity differ from the theory of gravity?


Chapter 4: Origin of the Solar System

4.1     Characteristics of the Solar System

•  What does the solar system look like?

•  What features of our solar system provide clues to how it formed?

Tools of Science: Conservation Laws

4.2     The Birth of the Solar System

•  What theory best explains the orderly patterns of motion in our solar system?

•  How does our theory account for the features of planets, moons, and small bodies?

4.3     The Process of Science in Action: The Age of the Solar System

•  How do we determine the age of Earth and the solar system?


Chapter 5: Terrestrial Planets

5.1     Terrestrial surfaces and atmospheres

•  What determines a world’s level of geological activity?

Tools of Science: Basic Properties of Light

•  How does an atmosphere affect conditions for life?

5.2     histories of Terrestrial Worlds

•  Why did the terrestrial worlds turn out so differently?

•  What unique features of Earth make life possible?

5.3     The Process of Science in Action: Global Warming

•  What is the evidence for global warming?


Chapter 6: The Outer Solar System

6.1     Jovian Planets, RINGS and Moons

•  What are jovian planets like?

Tools of Science: Newton’s Version of Kepler’s Third Law

•  Why are the jovian moons so geologically active?

6.2     Asteroids, Comets, and the Impact Threat

• Why are asteroids and comets grouped into three distinct regions?

•  Do small bodies pose an impact threat to Earth?

6.3     The Process of Science in Action: Extinction of the Dinosaurs

•  Did an impact kill the dinosaurs?


Chapter 7: Planets Around Other Stars

7.1 Detecting extrasolar planets

•  Why is it so difficult to detect planets around other stars?

•  How do we detect planets around other stars?

Tools of Science: The Doppler Effect

7.2  Characteristics of Extrasolar Planets

•  What have we learned about extrasolar planets?

•  How do extrasolar planets compare with planets in our solar system?

7.3  The Process of Science in Action: Revising the Nebular Theory

•  Do extrasolar planets require us to modify our theory of solar system formation?


Chapter 8: Our Sun and the Stars

8.1     properties of the SUn

•  What is the Sun like?

Tools of Science: Spectroscopy

•  How does energy escape the Sun?

8.2     Properties of other stars

•  How do we measure the properties of stars?

•  What patterns do we find in the properties of stars?

8.3     The Process of Science in Action: Visualizing Patterns Among Stars

•  How did we discover the patterns in stellar properties?


Chapter 9: Stellar Lives

9.1     Lives in Balance

•  Why do stars shine so steadily?

•  Why do a star’s properties depend on its mass?

Tools of Science: Quantum Laws and Astronomy

9.2     star death

•  What will happen when our Sun runs out of fuel?

•  How do high-mass stars end their lives?

9.3     The Process of Science in Action: Testing Stellar Models With Star Clusters

•  What do star clusters reveal about the lives of stars?


Chapter 10: The Bizarre Stellar Graveyard

10.1   White Dwarfs & Neutron Stars

•   How do white dwarfs behave?

•   How do we know that neutron stars exist?

10.2   Black Holes

•   What are black holes?

Tools of Science: Einstein’s Theories of Relativity

•   What happens to space and time near a black hole?

10.3   The Process of Science in Action: Searching for Black Holes

• Do black holes really exist?


Chapter 11: Galaxies

11.1   The Milky Way

•   What does our galaxy look like?

Tools of Science: Observing Different Kinds of Light

•   How did the Milky Way form?

11.2   GALAXIES beyond the milky way

•   What are the major types of galaxies?

•   Why do galaxies differ?

11.3   The process of science in action: solving the mystery of quasars

•  What is the energy source for quasars?


Chapter 12: Galaxy Distances and Hubble's Law

12.1   measuring cosmic distances

•   How do we measure the distances to galaxies?

Tools of Science: Measuring Distances with Standard Candles

•   What is Hubble’s law?

12.2   The Implications of Hubble’s Law

•   In what sense is the universe expanding?

•   How do distance measurements tell us the age of the universe?

12.3   The Process of Science in Action: Observing galaxy evolution

  •  What do we see when we look back through time?


Chapter 13: The Early Universe

13.1   The Origin of Matter

   • What were conditions like in the early universe?

Tools of Science: Particle Accelerators

   • How did the early universe change with time?

13.2   Evidence for the Big Bang Theory

   • How do we observe the radiation left over from the big bang?

   • How do the abundances of elements support the big bang theory?

13.3   The Process of Science in Action: Inflation

   • Did the universe undergo an early episode of inflation?


Chapter 14: Dark Matter and Energy

14.1   Evidence for dark matter

  • What is the evidence for dark matter?

Tools of Science: The Orbital Velocity Law

  • What might dark matter be made of?

14.2   Gravity versus expansion

  • What is the role of dark matter in structure formation?

  • Will the universe continue expanding forever?

14.3   The Process of science in Action: Evidence for dark energy

  • What is the evidence for dark energy?


Chapter 15: Life in the Universe

15.1  The Search for Life in the Solar System

  • What are the necessities of life?

  • Could there be life elsewhere in our solar system?

Tools of Science: Planetary Spacecraft

15.2  The Search for Life Among the Stars

  • Are habitable planets likely?

  • Is there intelligent life beyond Earth?

15.3   The Process of Science in Action: The Evolution of Life on Earth

  • What is the evidence for evolution?

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Cosmic Perspective Fundamentals, The, CourseSmart eTextbook
Format: Safari Book

$41.99 | ISBN-13: 978-0-321-59818-9