Based on the very popular liberal arts course Bob Bless has taught at University of Wisconsin for many years, this book provides a rich, historical approach to introductory astronomy. It is ideal for use in an introductory astronomy course for nonmajors. In the fifteen years since the first edition of this text was published, several new concepts such as dark matter, dark energy, and an incredible expansion of the universe (inflation) have been developed.
Furthermore, many of the exotic effects predicted by General Relativity (e.g. black holes, warped space) have gone from being interesting theoretical speculations to useful practical tools for understanding the universe. This book aims to give an overview of astronomy, but in such a way that the non-science major can get a feeling for how science actually developed with its false starts and wrong turns, which observational evidence eventually corrected, and also to describe the incredible recent developments in our understanding of the physical universe. Several chapters of this 2nd edition have been extensively revised to include these recent developments.
Because it has become increasingly difficult to “cover” all of astronomy in a one-semester course, this edition has largely omitted coverage of the physical nature of the objects in our, and other, planetary systems, although a discussion of the possibility of life elsewhere closes the book.