Jay Pasachoff and Alex Filippenko combine extensive research experience, teaching experience, and textbook-writing experience to offer a book that is unparalleled in its ability to present the latest science in a way that students can understand. This brief, beautifully illustrated text - one of the briefest available for the course - offers concise coverage of a wide range of astronomical topics. The authors have struck a balance between the fundamental concepts and the exciting topics at the forefront of astronomy, conveying the spirit of contemporary astronomy within a big picture context. The authors emphasize the central theme of origins in this text, first by singling out specifics in the headings of each chapter and then by dealing with a variety of relevant material in the text itself. An early discussion of the scientific method stresses an importance on the verification of observations, and sets the stage for the text's consistent focus on astronomy as a science.
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Jay M. Pasachoff is Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College, where he teaches the astronomy survey course and works with undergraduate students. He is also Director of the Hopkins Observatory there. Pasachoff has observed 35 solar eclipses and is Chair of the Working Group on Solar Eclipses of the International Astronomical Union. He is part of a group of scientists observing the atmosphere of Pluto through stellar occultations. He also works in radio astronomy, concentrating on cosmic deuterium and its consequences for cosmology. Further, he collaborates with an art historian on images of comets, the Moon, and eclipses. Pasachoff is U.S. National Liaison to the Commission on Astronomical Education and Development of the International Astronomical Union and is also Vice-President of the Commission. He has twice been Chair of the Astronomy Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he has been on the astronomy education committees of the American Astronomical Society, the American Physical Society, and the American Association of Physics Teachers. He is on the Council of Advisors of the Astronomy Education Review, the on-line journal sponsored by the American Astronomical Society and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. In addition to his college astronomy texts, Pasachoff has written the PETERSON FIELD GUIDE TO THE STARS AND PLANETS, and is author or co-author of textbooks in calculus and in physics as well as several junior-high-school textbooks. Pasachoff received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard and was at Caltech before going to Williams College. His sabbaticals and other leaves have been taken at the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy, the Institut d'Astrophysique in Paris, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Pasachoff has been awarded the 2003 Education Prize of the American Astronomical Society.
Alex Filippenko was recently awarded the 2006 Professor of the Year award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for his introductory astronomy course. He is a Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, having joined the faculty in 1986. He received his bachelor's degree in Physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara (1979), and his doctorate in Astronomy from the California Institute of Technology (1984). An observational astronomer who makes frequent use of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck 10-meter telescopes, Filippenko has also developed a completely robotic telescope that obtains data while he sleeps. He also made major contributions to the discovery that the expansion rate of the Universe is speeding up with time, driven by a mysterious form of dark energy--the top "Science Breakthrough of 1998," according to the editors of Science magazine. Filippenko's research accomplishments have been recognized with several major awards, including the Newton Lacy Pierce Prize of the American Astronomical Society (1992) and the Robert M. Petrie Prize of the Canadian Astronomical Society (1997). A Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, he has also been a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow (2001) and a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar (2002). In 1991 he won the two most coveted teaching awards at Berkeley. He has played a prominent role in science newscasts and television documentaries such as "Mysteries of Deep Space," "Stephen Hawking's Universe," and "Runaway Universe."
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