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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $50.00
  • June 2016
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-60298-2
  • 544 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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      At Play in the Cosmos

      Preliminary Edition


      Adam Frank (Author, University of Rochester)


      Not written like a textbook.

      Astronomy: At Play in the Cosmos brings popular science writing to a textbook. In every chapter, author Adam Frank—a co-writer of the NPR blog “13.7 Cosmos and Culture”—integrates two interviews with leading scientists, a fascinating second voice that drives the narrative while making astronomy feel immediate, relevant, and real for students, and still capturing science’s human nature.


      Endorsements & Reviews

      “I like how he brings into the mix real people in Astronomy and how they work and think…I think that might help keep students reading the material.” — Michael Frey, Cypress College

      “The writing style is one of the best I have read. I have done review of physics, astronomy, and earth sciences books, and by far this author has been one of the most pleasant I have encountered.” — Celso Batalha, Evergreen Valley College

      “I enjoyed the writing style of basing it around interviews with current astronomers. It reads like an article of a pop-sci magazine, but much more in-depth.” — Andrew Fittingoff, Peralta Community College

      “[…] with the incorporation of scientists’ voices, it was more like storytelling than what I am used to from other books. That kept it interesting. Hearing from scientists directly also humanizes the science, which I think is a good thing.” — Julia Kregenow, Pennsylvania State University

      A textbook that is not written like a textbook

      In every chapter, author Adam Frank interviews two scientists and infuses the prose with their quotations and anecdotes, a journalistic style that keeps students engaged and reading. Section Summaries review important concepts and serve as a study guide for each chapter, while a Running Glossary provides definitions to boldface terms in the margins for easy reference. 

      Author-influcenced media

      As he wrote the text, the author considered how to enhance reading by making the science interactive. Highlighted with icons in the book and ebook, 50 fun easy-to-use Interactive Simulations help students grasp physical and mathematical concepts by asking them to interact with the figures and bringing textbook art to life.  

      The best value in introductory astronomy

      Astronomy: At Play in the Cosmos includes SmartWork5 and Norton ebook access. Learning Astronomy by Doing Astronomy, a workbook offering collaborative lecture activities, can be packaged with the text at no additional cost. For the instructor no longer interested in a print text, we offer a digital option which includes SmartWork5 and the ebook at a fraction of the cost. 

      Astrobiology introduced in Part II

      Is there life beyond Earth? is a question commonly asked by those taking introductory astronomy. Rather than relegating astrobiology to the last chapter, Frank explores this topic in Chapter 9. This placement is ideal for instructors interested in teaching this material but who often run out of time at the end of the term.  

      SmartWork5: Dynamic online assessment with rich, answer-specific feedback

       SmartWork5 coaches students with hints that help them understand key concepts while enabling instructors to assess student progress. Each question links to the appropriate section of the Astronomy: At Play in the Cosmos ebook and, for every chapter, SmartWork5 includes pre-made assignments written specifically for this textbook. Smartwork5 is phone and tablet compatible and integrates with the most popular campus learning management systems.

        Part I: Bedrock
        Chapter 1: Getting Started: Science, Astronomy, and Being Human
        Chapter 2: A Universe Made, a Universe Discovered: The Night Sky and the Dawn of Astronomy
        Chapter 3: A Universe of Universal Laws: From the Copernican Revolution to Newton’s Gravity
        Chapter 4: A Universe of Universal Laws: How Light, Matter, and Heat Shape the Cosmos

        Part II: Planets Near and Far
        Chapter 5: The Architecture and Birth of Planetary Systems
        Chapter 6: Home Base: Earth and the Moon
        Chapter 7: Sibling Worlds: Mercury, Venus, and Mars
        Chapter 8: Gas, Ice, and Stone: The Outer Planets
        Chapter 9: Life and the Search for Habitable Worlds

        Part III: A Galaxy of Stars

        Chapter 10: The Sun as a Star
        Chapter 11: Measuring the Stars: The Main Sequence and Its Meaning
        Chapter 12: Nursery of the Stars: The Interstellar Medium and Star Formation
        Chapter 13: To the Graveyard of Stars: The End Points of Stellar Evolution
        Chapter 14: Down the Rabbit Hole: Relativity and Black Holes

        Part IV: A Universe of Galaxies
        Chapter 15: Our City of Stars: The Milky Way
        Chapter 16: A Universe of Galaxies
        Chapter 17: The Cosmic Web: The Large-Scale Structure of the Universe
        Chapter 18: Endings and Beginnings: Cosmology