A new introductory textbook called Astronomy has just been published by OpenStax, a national, non-profit project to develop high-quality, introductory textbooks that are free to students. The publisher is located at Rice University and supported by several major foundations (including the Gates and Hewlett Foundations.) They have already done over 20 free textbooks in other fields, used by hundreds of thousands of students around the country. Senior authors for the new non-technical astronomy text are Andrew Fraknoi (Foothill College), David Morrison (NASA Ames Research Ctr.), and Sidney Wolff (National Optical Astronomy Observatory), who have had many years of experience writing texts and educational materials. The project had the help of over 75 astronomers and astronomy educators, to make sure that the text is up-to-date, authoritative, and educationally sound. None of the authors receive one penny of royalties. 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 professors can use it as is, or develop their own electronic version of it, selecting only the sections they teach and adding course-specific curriculum materials. The textbook is now available for review and adoption.
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The long awaited second edition of the Astrobiology Primer is now published in the journal Astrobiology. This version is an update of the Primer originally published in 2006, written by graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to provide a comprehensive introduction to the field. Redone from scratch, the 2016 version contains updated content that addresses the definition of life in scientific research, the origins of planets and planetary systems, the evolution and interactions of life on Earth, habitability on worlds beyond Earth, the search for life, and the overall implications of the research. The Primer is intended to be a resource for early-career scientists, especially graduate students, who are new to astrobiology. Download
"Today SKA Organisation is releasing the new official SKA science book, Advancing Astrophysics with the Square Kilometre Array. The book contains the proceedings from the SKA science conference held in Giardini Naxos, Sicily last year. The two-volume book contains 135 chapters written by 1,213 contributors from 31 nationalities, adding up to some 2000 pages covering many areas of astrophysics, from cosmology to the search for life in the Universe. "The publication of the new SKA science book is the culmination of more than a year's work by the SKA science team and the scientific community at large" said Dr. Robert Braun, the SKA Science Director. "It's also a great testimony to the growing interest and scope of the SKA since the publication of the last book 10 years ago." The last SKA science book, Science with the Square Kilometre Array, was published in 2004."
"Ron Garan used to be an astronaut. Now he helps people in remote African communities obtain fresh drinking water. Yet he still has his head back amongst the stars. How he came to this point is the subject of his book "The Orbital Perspective". While many people who have spent time in space have come back with altered perceptions and equipped with a new perspective of our home planet, few manage to express that change in perspective as well as Garan does. Moreover, even fewer actually take that enhanced perspective and put it into action - again, as Garan does."
NASA Book by Douglas A. Vakoch: "Addressing a field that has been dominated by astronomers, physicists, engineers, and computer scientists, the contributors to this collection raise questions that may have been overlooked by physical scientists about the ease of establishing meaningful communication with an extraterrestrial intelligence.
These scholars are grappling with some of the enormous challenges that will face humanity if an information-rich signal emanating from another world is detected. By drawing on issues at the core of contemporary archaeology and anthropology, we can be much better prepared for contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, should that day ever come."
- Kindle readers: MOBI [2.8 MB]
- All other eBook readers: EPUB [3.8 MB]
- Fixed layout: PDF [1.7 MB]
"[Held in 2004] The NASA History Division is pleased to present the record of a unique meeting on risk and exploration held under the auspices of the NASA Administrator, Sean O'Keefe, at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, from September 26-29, 2004.
The meeting was the brainchild of Keith Cowing and astronaut John Grunsfeld, NASA's chief scientist at the time. Its goals, stated in the letter of invitation published herein, were precipitated by the ongoing dialogue on risk and exploration in the wake of the Columbia Shuttle accident, the Hubble Space Telescope servicing question, and, in a broader sense, by the many NASA programs that inevitably involve a balance between risk and forward-looking exploration.
The meeting, extraordinarily broad in scope and participant experience, offers insights on why we explore, how to balance risk and exploration, how different groups define and perceive risk differently, and the importance of exploration to a creative society.."
Download the symposium proceedings from NASA (free PDF)
From "Interstellar": This is what happens when politics drives textbook content and robs children of a future of exploration.