The Cosmos: A Historical Perspective

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $4.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 93%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (7) from $4.99   
  • New (4) from $37.64   
  • Used (3) from $4.99   


Everyone knows that the universe is extremely old and extremely large. But how did scientists determine just how old and how large? How do astronomers know that there are upwards of 100 billion galaxies in the universe if the nearest one is over 40,000 light-years away? How do we know what the stars are made of? The answer is that our current knowledge of the universe has arisen from the work and ideas of scientists and philosophers over hundreds of years. While it's only been during the last several decades that scientists have had the technology and theories to really understand how the universe works, humans have thought about such issues for millennia. And the scientists who today are attempting to understand the most complex issues of the universe build upon the work and thought of the thinkers of the last hundreds of years.

The Cosmos: A Historical Perspective provides an accessible introduction to the many ways humans have conceived of the universe throughout history and what ideas have led to our current understanding of the cosmos. The book examines: the Scientific Revolution and the new ideas of the Earth's place in the cosmos; the importance of nineteenth-century physics and chemistry in determining the compositions of stars; Einstein's Theory of Relativity and how it altered how scientists thought about gravity; and new, cutting-edge science that may alter, yet again, our conceptions of the cosmos, such as the inflationary universe and the possibility of dark energy. Jargon and mathematics is kept to a minimum, and the volume includes an annotated bibliography and a timeline. The Cosmos is an ideal introduction for students studying space science and the history and nature of the scientific understanding of the universe.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] good account of the development of cosmology over the last two or three millennia."


Astronomy Now

"From Plato's erroneous promulgation that the planets have circular orbits to calculation in 2003 of Hubble's constant, Fraser offers a lucid introduction to historical perspectives on the nature of the cosmos. The history of Western (including Islamic) cosmology is divided into four periods: early mythologies, classical Greek thought through Copernicus, heliocentric and Newtonian views, and the modern era starting in the 1920s with realization of the multi-galactic nature of the universe. The volume includes a timeline, a glossary, and B&W illustrations."


SciTech Book News

"The complex relationship between theories (including theories that eventually proved to be incorrect) and observation is a central focus throughout this concise, thought-provoking historical analysis. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals."



Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

CRAIG G. FRASER is a professor in the Institute for History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto. He is the editor-in-chief of the journal Historia Mathematica, and has written numerous articles on the history of modern cosmology.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents




abylonian and Chinese Astronomy and Cosmology

Greek Astronomy and Cosmology

Cosmology from Islam to Copernicus

Cosmology from Brahe to Newton

Stellar Astronomy: The Universe Beyond the Solar System

A Universe of Galaxies: The Triumph of the Island Universe Theory

The Expansion of the Universe

From Universal Expansion to the Big Bang

The Big-Band Universe: Grom 1965 to the 21st Century



Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)