The Essential Cosmic Perspective eBook (8e) : 9780134552118

The Essential Cosmic Perspective eBook (8e)

Bennett,J et al
Published by
Pearson Higher Ed USA
Title type
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About the book: For one-semester courses in astronomy. A practical introduction to Astronomy with an emphasis on critical thinking about our place in the universe.

This 8th Edition of Essential Cosmic Perspective provides non-science majors with a streamlined, cutting-edge introduction to astronomy. Built on a strong tradition of effective pedagogy and coverage, the text focuses on student skill-building and includes group work exercises that require active participation. Dedicated to bringing an understanding of the universe, its scientific basis and its relevance to our lives, each chapter is written to specific learning goals that build an ideal learning path for students. Aiming to foster a lifelong learning experience, the authors focus on key concepts, providing big picture context, promoting conceptual understanding, and preferring plain language to jargon.

The 8th Edition incorporates the latest scientific updates in the field of astronomy and includes new features that reinforce critical thinking and excite students’ curiosity. New features such as Extraordinary Claims engage students by presenting extraordinary claims about the universe and how they were either supported or debunked as scientists collected more evidence, reinforcing the process of science and how scientists think critically to evaluate them.

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Table of contents
  • I. Developing Perspective
  • 1. A Modern View of the Universe
  • 2. Discovering the Universe for Yourself
  • 3. The Science of Astronomy
  • II. Key Concepts for Astronomy
  • 4. Making Sense of the Universe: Understanding Motion, Energy, and Gravity
  • 5. Light: The Cosmic Messenger
  • III. Learning from Other Worlds
  • 6. Formation of the Solar System
  • 7. Earth and the Terrestrial Worlds
  • 8. Jovian Planet Systems
  • 9. Asteroids, Comets, and Dwarf Planets: Their Nature, Orbits, and Impacts
  • 10. Other Planetary Systems: The New Science of Distant Worlds
  • IV. Stars
  • 11. Our Star
  • 12. Surveying the Stars
  • 13. Star Stuff
  • 14. The Bizarre Stellar Graveyard
  • V. Galaxies and Beyond
  • 15. Our Galaxy
  • 16. A Universe of Galaxies
  • 17. The Birth of the Universe
  • 18. Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Fate of the Universe
  • VI. Life on Earth and Beyond
  • 19. Life in the Universe
Features & benefits

Pedagogical features enhance learning


  • Chapter Learning Goals, written as questions, set up the framework for each section and provide a clear learning path through the chapter.
  • Essential Preparation, at the beginning of each chapter, identifies the key prior concepts that the students will need to understand in order to succeed in each chapter.
  • Cosmic Calculations Boxes contain most of the mathematics used in the book, and can be covered or skipped depending on the level of mathematics included in the course.
  • Cosmic Context Two-Page Figures are two-page spreads that provide visual summaries of key processes and concepts.
  • Annotated Figures are key figures in each chapter that utilise the research-based technique of “annotation”–carefully crafted text placed on the figure to guide students through interpreting graphs, following process figures, and translating between different representations.
  • Wavelength/Observatory Icons are simple icons that indicate whether an astronomical image is a photo, artist’s impression, or computer simulation; whether a photo came from ground-based or space-based observations; and the wavelength band used to take the photo.
  • Think About It sections appear throughout the book as short questions integrated into the narrative, giving students the opportunity to reflect on important new concepts.
  • See It for Yourself sections are integrated into the narrative, giving students the opportunity to conduct simple observations or experiments that will help them understand key concepts.
  • Common Misconceptions address popularly held but incorrect ideas related to the chapter material.
  • Special Topic Boxes contain supplementary discussion topics that are related to the chapter material, but not prerequisite to the continuing discussion.
  • The Big Picture at the end of each chapter, helps students put what they’ve learned into the context of the overall goal of gaining a broader perspective on ourselves, our planet, and prospects for life beyond Earth.
  • Chapter Summaries offer a concise review of the learning goal questions, helping to reinforce student understanding of key concepts from the chapter. Thumbnail figures are included as visual cues of key illustrations and photos in the chapter.
  • End-of-chapter exercises in each chapter include an extensive set of exercises that can be used for study, discussion, or assignment. All of the end-of-chapter exercises are organised into the following subsets:
    • Visual Skills Checks help students build their skills at interpreting the many types of visual information used in astronomy.
    • Review Questions pose questions that can be answered from the reading alone.
    • Does It Make Sense? sections provide a set of short statements that  students are expected to think about and determine whether they make sense. Once students understand a particular concept, this approach is an excellent probe of comprehension.
    • Quick Quizzes are short multiple-choice quizzes that allow students to check their progress.
    • Process of Science Questions are essay or discussion questions that help students focus on how science progresses over time.
    • Group Work Exercises are suggested activities designed for collaborative learning in class.
    • Short-Answer/Essay Questions are questions that go beyond the Review Questions in asking for conceptual interpretation.
    • Quantitative Problems are problems that require some mathematics, usually based on topics covered in the Cosmic Calculations Mathematical Insight boxes.
    • Discussion Questions are open-ended questions for class discussions.
    • Web Projects offer a few suggestions for additional web-based research.
  • A detailed glossary makes it easy for students to look up important terms.


New features further reinforce the importance of critical thinking in astronomy

  • NEW! Extraordinary Claims boxes provide students with examples of extraordinary claims about the universe and how they were either supported or debunked as scientists collected more evidence.
  • NEW! “My Cosmic Perspective” sections focus on a personal connection between students and the cosmos, encouraging students to think more critically about the meaning of what they learn in their course and apply astronomy to their own lives.
  • NEW! Icons call attention to a few of the features that promote critical thinking throughout the chapter and in the end of chapter problems.

Major chapter-level changes include scientific updates and improve pedagogical flow

  • REVISED! Chapter 7 has been significantly rewritten to reflect new results from MESSENGER at Mercury, Curiosity and MAVEN at Mars, and the latest data on global warming.
  • REVISED! Chapter 9 has been reorganized and rewritten to reflect recent developments in the study of small bodies, particularly the revolutionary new views provided by recent spacecraft including Dawn, Rosetta, and New Horizons.
  • REVISED! Chapter 10 has been heavily revised in light of thousands of new discoveries of extrasolar planets since the prior edition.
  • REVISED! In Chapter 14, Section 14.4 has been rewritten to focus on neutron star mergers and events in which black holes can form.
  • REVISED!  Chapter 15 has been revised to reduce jargon and to include a new full-page figure showing the Milky Way in different wavelengths. In addition, Section 15.4 on the galactic center has been rewritten and features a new 2-page Cosmic Context spread.
  • REVISED! Chapter 16 has been significantly revised in light of new research into galactic evolution.
  • REVISED! Chapter 19 has been significantly rewritten thanks to new understanding of the potential habitability of Mars, Titan, and extrasolar planets.

Scientific updates reflect new developments in the field of astronomy

  • NEW! New results and images from spacecraft exploring our solar system are included.
  • NEW! Recent results from major space observatories, including Hubble and Kepler, and from powerful ground-based observatories, such as ALMA, are included.
  • UPDATED! Updated data and models on topics such as the formation of planetary systems, global warming, and galaxy formation and evolution have been added.
  • NEW! Major new discoveries and statistics relating to the study of extrasolar planets, new research on the timing and possible origin of life on Earth, and much more, are included.
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