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Astronomy Today 8th Edition

Astronomy Today 8th Edition PDF

Author: Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan

Publisher: Pearson


Publish Date: September 9, 2013

ISBN-10: 0321901673

Pages: 832

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Astronomy is a science that thrives on new discoveries. Fueled by new technologies and novel theoretical insights, the study of the cosmos continues to change our understanding of the universe. We are pleased to have the opportunity to present in this book a representative sample of the known facts, evolving ideas, and frontier discoveries in astronomy today.

Astronomy Today has been written for students who have taken no previous college science courses and who will likely not major in physics or astronomy. It is intended for use in a one- or two-semester, nontechnical astronomy course. We present a broad view of astronomy, straightfor-wardly descriptive and without complex mathematics. The absence of sophisticated mathematics, however, in no way prevents discussion of important concepts. Rather, we rely on qualitative reasoning as well as analogies with objects and phenomena familiar to the student to explain the complexi-ties of the subject without oversimplification. We have tried to communicate the excitement we feel about astronomy and to awaken students to the marvelous universe around us.

We are very gratified that the first seven editions of this text have been so well received by many in the astronomy education community. In using those earlier texts, many teachers and students have given us helpful feedback and constructive criticisms. From these, we have learned to com-municate better both the fundamentals and the excitement of astronomy. Many improvements inspired by these comments have been incorporated into this new edition.

Focus of the Eighth Edition

From the first edition, we have tried to meet the challenge of writing a book that is both accurate and approachable. To the student, astronomy sometimes seems like a long list of unfamiliar terms to be memorized and repeated. Many new terms and concepts will be introduced in this course, but we hope students will also learn and remember how science is done, how the universe works, and how things are connected. In the eighth edition, we have taken particular care to show how astronomers know what they know, and to highlight both the scientific principles underlying their work and the process used in discovery.

New and Revised Material

Astronomy is a rapidly evolving field and, in the three years since the publication of the seventh edition of Astronomy Today, has seen many new discoveries covering the entire spectrum of astronomical research. Almost every chapter in the eighth edition has been substantially updated with new information. Several chapters have also seen significant reorganization in order to streamline the overall presentation, strengthen our focus on the process of science, and reflect new understanding and emphases in contemporary astronomy.

In addition to updates throughout the text on the num-bers and properties of the many astronomical objects, the many substantive changes include the following:

– A new Discovery box in Chapter 5 on the ALMA inter-ferometric array.
– Significant revision in Chapter 5 of the discussion of infrared telescopes, including new coverage of Herschel and introduction of the James Webb Space Telescope.
– A new two-page box in Chapter 6 on planetary exploration.
– Incorporation and reorganization of the entire “standard” theory of solar system formation into Chapter 6, laying the groundwork for interpreting the planetary data presented in Part 2 and allowing Chapter 15 to focus on solar system details, irregularities, and exoplanets.
– Updated discussion in Discovery 8-1 of Chang’e, GRAIL, and other recent lunar missions; new discussion of the Prospector, LRO, and LCROSS missions, with updated coverage of the search for lunar ice.
– Updated coverage in Chapter 8 of the lunar core and interior based on the latest GRAIL results.
– Updated discussion in Chapter 8 of surface features on Mercury, following the Messenger mission.

– Updated discussion in Chapter 8 of Mercury’s inner and outer core and magnetic field and formation, in light of new Messenger data.
– Updated discussion in Chapter 9 of Venus Express find-ings and status.
– Updated discussion in Chapter 10 of the collision hypoth-esis as the origin of the northern Martian lowlands.
– Reorganized and updated discussion in Chapter 10 of liquid water on the Martian surface.
– Updated discussion in Chapter 10 on the Spirit, Opportunity, and Phoenix landers; new material on the Curiosity lander and its findings.
– Revised discussion in Chapter 10 of the origin of the Martian moons.
– Updated coverage of cometary impacts in Discovery 11-1, indicating that such impacts are commonplace in the solar system.

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