Free online Astronomy bookPosted on November 3rd, 2016 No comments
We are excited to let you know about a national, non-profit project to develop a high-quality, introductory astronomy textbook that is free to students and the public alike. The publisher, OpenStax, is located at Rice University and supported by several major foundations (including the Gates Foundation.) They have already done over 20 free textbooks in other fields, used by hundreds of thousands of students around the country.
With the help of over 75 astronomers and astronomy educators (several that I know), the textbook (cleverly named Astronomy,) has been adapted, expanded, and updated from earlier textbooks the three authors have written. The book is free to students in the electronic version, and can be custom printed on demand – at cost. Even more interesting, the book is open source, which means you can use it as is, or develop your own electronic version of it, selecting only the sections you want to read.
Featuring such current topics as the results from the New Horizons exploration of Pluto, the classification of exoplanets from Kepler and other projects, and the discovery of gravitational waves, the book is up-to-date and peer reviewed. At the same time, it is written in everyday language specifically for non-science majors or amateur astronomers, with many analogies from students’ lives, clear diagrams, the latest color images, and occasional touches of humor.
Math boxes throughout the chapters put topics on a quantitative footing for those who want to use math. Each chapter has math problems at the end. However, if you don’t use math, these boxes and problems can easily be skipped. Chapters also include suggested collaborative group activities, especially useful for discussion sections, links to web resources, biographies of astronomers, interdisciplinary connections, and much more.