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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $111.00
  • January 2010
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-93198-3
  • 651 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

21st Century Astronomy

Full Third Edition


Jeff Hester (Author, Arizona State University), Bradford Smith (Author, University of Hawaii, emeritus), George Blumenthal (Author, University of California, Santa Cruz), Laura Kay (Author, Barnard College), Howard Voss (Author, Arizona State University, emeritus)


With 21st Century Astronomy, students see the universe through the eyes of a scientist.

21st Century Astronomy’s distinctive writing style, superior art, and supporting media package all work together to teach students how science works, help students visualize basic concepts and physical processes, and keep students focused on the “big picture.”

For the Third Edition, the entire text has been reread from a student’s perspective and rewritten to eliminate jargon and ensure that the book’s hallmark tone resounds throughout every chapter. New Visual Analogy icons help students connect the textual analogies used to describe physical processes with the figures that illustrate them, and new AstroTour animations and simulations developed at the University of Nebraska provide students with opportunities for interactive learning.


A conversational style that adopters love

Professors who use 21st Century Astronomy love the writing style. The book engages students by employing an informal, conversational tone to explain how science works and how we know what we know. The authors have organized chapters around explaining discoveries and their subsequent interpretation, showing how and why those interpretations matter.

An art program that helps students see how science works

  • Visual Analogy icons in the text tie together popular textual analogies with drawn art that illustrates them.
  • Line art and animations are now part of the assessment tools in SmartWork online homework. The online homework system includes questions based on new animations, and still other questions whose feedback makes use of animations. Ranking Task exercises ask students to drag and drop elements—often images—into place.
  • Over 100 new photos show how the science of astronomy has progressed since the last edition.

Innovative emedia and ancillaries

  • Twelve new AstroTour animations use photorealistic 3-D art developed specifically for the course. These animations help students visualize basic physics/astronomy concepts and correct potential misconceptions. The animations are freely available from the StudySpace student website, and are also integrated into assignable SmartWork Exercises. Offline versions of the AstroTours, enhanced for lecture presentation, are also available in the Instructor Lecture PowerPoints.
  • Interactive simulations allow students to manipulate variables and work toward understanding physics and astronomy concepts. These applets, which were authored at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln and developed with NSF grants, are integrated into StudySpace.
  • Starry Night College DVD-ROM and workbook is a realistic and user friendly planetarium simulation program designed to allow students in urban areas to perform observational activities on a computer screen. The workbook is fully integrated with the text, and offers observation assignments that guide students' virtual explorations and help them apply what they've learned from the reading assignments.

Features and resources to help students stay focused on the big picture

Chapter-opening Key Ideas, interspersed “Trailmarker” quotes, and end-of-chapter summaries help students stay on track. “Seeing the Forest for the Trees” essays at the end of each chapter help students see connections between science and the liberal arts, as well as connections between chapters.

Flexible instructor tools

  • New Math Tools boxes offer the instructor flexibility in choosing the mathematical concepts to cover. In these boxes, the authors show how math, the “language of science,” is used throughout the scientific process. By separating out much of the math from the exposition, instructors are now able to assign mathematical topics at their discretion.
  • More end-of-chapter questions to help instructors assess student progress. Many questions from the expanded set have also been adapted for use in SmartWork online homework.
  • SmartWork online homework allows instructors to create and assign algorithmically generated homework and offers students answer-specific feedback at just the right “teachable moment.” All new questions are based on either the expanded end-of-chapter questions or the new animations. In addition to multiple-choice and numeric questions, SmartWork also includes ranking task exercises that ask students to answer questions that are often based on chapter art.

    Part I: Introduction to Astronomy

    Chapter 1: Why Learn Astronomy?

    Chapter 2: Patterns in the Sky—Motions of Earth

    Chapter 3: Gravity and Orbits—A Celestial Ballet

    Chapter 4: Light

    Chapter 5: The Tools of the Astronomer

    Part II: The Solar System

    Chapter 6: The Birth and Evolution of Planetary Systems

    Chapter 7: The Terrestrial Planets and Earth's Moon

    Chapter 8: Atmospheres of the Terrestrial Planets

    Chapter 9: Worlds of Gas and Liquid—The Giant Planets

    Chapter 10: Gravity Is More Than Kepler's Laws

    Chapter 11: Planetary Adornments—Moons and Rings

    Chapter 12: Dwarf Planets and Small Solar System Bodies

    Part III: Stars and Stellar Evolution

    Chapter 13: Taking the Measure Of Stars

    Chapter 14: A Run-of-the-Mill G Type Star—Our Sun

    Chapter 15: Star Formation and the Interstellar Medium

    Chapter 16: Stars in the Slow Lane: Low-Mass Stellar Evolution

    Chapter 17: Live Fast, Die Young: High Mass Stellar Evolution

    Part IV: Galaxies, the Universe, and Cosmology

    Chapter 18: Our Expanding Universe

    Chapter 19: Galaxies

    Chapter 20: The Milky Way—A Normal Spiral Galaxy

    Chapter 21: Modern Cosmology

    Chapter 22: Structure in the Universe

    Chapter 23: Life