The Complete Idiot's Guide to Astronomy / Edition 4

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Look to the stars.

Although Astronomy has been around for more than 5,500 years, astronomers say that we've learned more than 90% of what we know about the universe in just the last 50-and much of that in the last decade! The Complete Idiot's Guide(r) to Astronomy, Fourth Edition, continues to be the most comprehensive introduction to the topic, covering all the latest advances and discoveries, including:
• The demotion of Pluto and promotion of Ceres as planetary objects
• Breakthrough evidence of recent water flow on Mars
• New developments in asteroid-tracking programs
• New information on the nature and shape of our universe
• Mind-bending theories concerning multiple universes
• Information on the latest telescopes

As a bonus, this book includes a fascinating CDROM with more than 200 of the most spectacular images from NASA, star maps, and other tools for backyard astronomers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592577194
  • Publisher: Alpha Books
  • Publication date: 3/4/2008
  • Series: Complete Idiot's Guide Series
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 7.36 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher DePree, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at Agnes Scott College, where he teaches physics and astronomy. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is the Director of Bradley Observatory.
Alan Axelrod, Ph.D., is the author of more than 20 books, including three Complete Idiot's Guides(r).
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Table of Contents

Part 1 - Finding Our Place in Space
  • Chapter 1 - Naked Sky, Naked Eye: Finding Your Way in the Dark
    • There Goes the Sun
    • Flat Earth, Big Bowl
    • Pictures in the Sky
    • Worth Knowing?

  • Chapter 2 - Ancient Evenings: The First Watchers
    • A Dragon Eats the Sun: Ancient Chinese Astronomy
    • The View from Babylon
    • Egyptian Observations
    • Stonehenge and the New World
    • Grecian Formula

  • Chapter 3 - The Unexplained Motions of the Heavens
    • Marking Time
    • The Sun Goes Dark, The Moon Becomes Blood
    • Aristotle Lays Down the Law
    • Ptolemy's Picture
    • A Darkness Settles

  • Chapter 4 - Astronomy Reborn: 1543-1687
    • Arabian Nights
    • Heresy of a Polish Priest
    • Tycho Observes
    • Kepler Makes Sense of It
    • Galileo's Eye
    • Holding It All Together

Part 2 - Now You See It (Now You Don't)

  • Chapter 5 - The Art of Collecting Light (with a Telescope)
    • Slice of Light
    • Light Buckets
    • Size Matters
    • Twinkle, Twinkle

  • Chapter 6 - You and Your Telescope
    • Should I Buy a Telescope?
    • Science Aside, What Will It Cost?
    • What Should I Buy?
    • A Firm Footing
    • I've Bought My Telescope, Now What?
    • Learning How to See

  • Chapter 7 - Over the Rainbow
    • Making Waves
    • The Whole Spectrum
    • The News from Space

  • Chapter 8 - Seeing in the Dark
    • Dark Doesn't Mean You Can't Look
    • What Radio Astronomers "See"
    • You Can Do This, Too!
    • The Rest of the Spectrum

  • Chapter 9 - Space Race
    • This Really Is Rocket Science
    • Early Manned Missions
    • Satellites and Probes
    • JFK's Challenge
    • Planetary Probes
    • Space Shuttles and Space Stations

Part 3 - A Walk Around the Block

  • Chapter 10 - The Moon: Our Closest Neighbor
    • From the Earth to the Moon
    • The Birth of the Moon
    • Green Cheese?

  • Chapter 11 - Solar System Home Movie
    • Writing the History of the Solar System
    • From Nebular Contraction to Condensation Theory
    • Cooking Up the Recipe
    • What Is Born Dies

  • Chapter 12 - Solar System Family Snapshot
    • Our Neighborhood Today: A Tour Around the Solar System
    • Points of Interest
    • The Inner and Outer Circles
    • Solar System Leftovers
    • Anatomy of a Comet
    • Catch a Falling Star

  • Chapter 13 - Meet the Terrestrials: The Inner Planets
    • The Terrestrial Roster
    • Mercury: The Moon's Twin
    • Forecast for Venus: "Hot, Overcast, and Dense"
    • The Earth: Just Right
    • Mars: "That Looks Like New Mexico!"
    • Where to Next?

  • Chapter 14 - By Jove!: The Outer Planets
    • The Jovian Roster
    • Rotation: A New Twist
    • The Weather on Jupiter
    • Saturnine Atmosphere
    • The Atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune
    • Inside the Jovians
    • The Jovian Magnetospheres

  • Chapter 15 - The Far End of the Block
    • Exploring the Rings of Saturn
    • Among the Giants
    • Distant Moons
    • The Discovery of Pluto

Part 4 - To the Stars

  • Chapter 16 - Our Star
    • Where Does It All Begin?
    • The Solar Atmosphere
    • Fun in the Sun
    • The Heart of the Matter

  • Chapter 17 - Of Giants and Dwarfs: Stepping Out into the Stars
    • Sizing Them Up
    • Radius, Luminosity, Temperature: A Key Relationship
    • The Parallax View
    • Do Stars Move?
    • Measures of Brightness
    • Taking a Star's Temperature
    • The Stars Classified
    • From Giants to Dwarfs: Sorting the Stars by Size
    • Establishing the Main Sequence

  • Chapter 18 - Stellar Careers
    • Evolution of a Star
    • The Fate of an Aging Star
    • The Life and Death of a High-Mass Star
    • Supernova: Stellar Death Spasm
    • Neutron Stars
    • I Can't Stop!

  • Chapter 19 - Black Holes: One-Way Tickets to Eternity
    • Is There No End to This Pressure?
    • Relativity
    • Thought Experiments
    • Has Anyone Seen a Black Hole?

  • Chapter 20 - A Star Is Born
    • An Interstellar Road Map
    • Star Light, Star Bright
    • The Interstellar Medium: One Big Fuel Tank
    • Multiple Births
    • In the Delivery Room

Part 5 - Way Out of This World

  • Chapter 21 - The Milky Way: Much More Than a Candy Bar
    • Where Are We?
    • Our Home Galaxy
    • Measuring the Size of the Milky Way
    • The Milky Way: A Fuller Portrait
    • Something's Missing

  • Chapter 22 - A Galaxy of Galaxies
    • Pigeonholing the Galaxies
    • In the Arms of a Galaxy
    • How to "Weigh" a Galaxy
    • Let's Get Organized
    • Is It All Slipping Away?

  • Chapter 23 - Moving Out of Town
    • A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...
    • Quasars: Looks Can be Deceiving
    • Quasars and the Evolution of Galaxies
    • Aren't All Galaxies Active?
    • Where Does It All Begin?

Part 6 - The Big Questions

  • Chapter 24 - Are We Alone?
    • What Do You Mean by "Alone"?
    • The Odds for Life on Mars
    • Hello! Is Anybody Out There?
    • A Closer Look at the Equation
    • Where Are the Little Green Men?

  • Chapter 25 - What About the Big Bang?
    • The Work of the Cosmologist
    • I'll Give You Two Clues
    • Same Old Same Old
    • So What Was the Big Bang?

  • Chapter 26 - (How) Will It End?
    • The Meaning of the Redshift
    • What Does It All Mean?
    • We Have a Problem
    • Coming Full Circle


  • Appendix A - Star Words Glossary

  • Appendix r B - Upcoming Eclipses

  • Appendix C - The Constellations

  • Appendix D - The Messier Catalog

  • Appendix E - Sources for Astronomers

  • Index
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