Discovering the Universe

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  • Edition: 10th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2014-03-14
  • Publisher: W. H. Freeman

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Supplemental Materials

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  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
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Neil Comins’ Discovering the Universe is highly acclaimed for bringing the excitement of scientific discovery to the one-term astronomy course. Vivid writing and images, conceptual and mathematical support, and a focus on common mistakes and misunderstandings have made the book a longtime classroom bestseller.

The new edition captures the current state of our understanding of the cosmos, with new findings, new study help, and an expanded new media/supplements package centered on W.H. Freeman’s breakthrough online course space, LaunchPad.

See what's in the LaunchPad

Author Biography

Professor Neil F. Comins is on the faculty of the University of Maine. He earned a bachelor's degree in engineering physics at Cornell University, a master's degree in physics at the University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. in astrophysics from University College, Cardiff, Wales.  Dr. Comins took over the authorship of Discovering the Universe in its Fourth Edition, following the death of William Kaufmann. He is also the author of Discovering the Essential Universe and Discovering the Universe: From the Stars to the Planets. Dr. Comins has also written bestselling books for general audiences, including What if the Moon Didn't Exist?, Heavenly Errors, The Hazards of Space Travel, and What if the Earth Had Two Moons?

Table of Contents


Part I Understanding Astronomy
Chapter 1 Discovering the Night Sky
WHAT IF… Earth’s Axis Lay on the Ecliptic?
Chapter 2 Gravitation and the Motion of the Planets 41
Chapter 3 Light and Telescopes
WHAT IF… Humans Had Infrared-Sensitive Eyes?
Chapter 4 Atomic Physics and Spectra

Part II Understanding the Solar System
Chapter 5 Formation of the Solar System and Other Planetary Systems
Chapter 6 Earth and the Moon
WHAT IF… The Moon Didn’t Exist?
Chapter 7 The Other Terrestrial Planets
Chapter 8 The Outer Planets
WHAT IF… We Lived on a Metal-Poor Earth?
Chapter 9 Vagabonds of the Solar System
Chapter 10 The Sun: Our Extraordinary Ordinary Star

Part III Understanding the Stars
Chapter 11 Characterizing Stars
Chapter 12 The Lives of Stars from Birth Through Middle Age
WHAT IF… Earth Orbited a 1.5-M⊙ Sun?
Chapter 13 The Deaths of Stars
WHAT IF… A Supernova Exploded Near Earth?
Chapter 14 Black Holes: Matters of Gravity

Part IV Understanding the Universe
Chapter 15 The Milky Way Galaxy
Chapter 16 Galaxies 4
WHAT IF… The Solar System Were Located Closer to the Center of the Galaxy?
Chapter 17 Quasars and Other
Chapter 18 Cosmology
Chapter 19 Astrobiology


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