The Physical Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy

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University Science Books, 1982 - Science - 584 pages
"This is a truly astonishing book, invaluable for anyone with an interest in astronomy." Physics Bulletin

"Just the thing for a first year university science course." Nature

"This is a beautiful book in both concept and execution." Sky & Telescope

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User Review  - vacapinta - LibraryThing

That this book is out of print is a loss to all students. I keep referring back to my copy, old as it is, for concise and exact explanations of concepts in physics from basic thermo and quantum up to ... Read full review

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When this text was written in 1982 I am sure it was the best book available to learn Astronomy, Astrophysics and even General Physics from. Dr. Shu writes in a manner that is enjoyable to read while conveying a great amount of information about Astronomy. The book can be used as a text for a descriptive course in Astronomy for non-science majors by omitting the problems, a good introductory text for undergraduate science majors by assigning some of the problems or an upper division or introductory text for Astronomy and Physics majors by assigning all of the problems. Answers are not given for any of the problems but Dr. Shu leads you through each one in a way in which you will know whether you got it right or not.
The major problem with the book is that in 2013 it is somewhat outdated. Nothing about the discoveries made by the Hubble Space Telescope as well as the Galileo, Cassini or other planetary probes that have been launched since 1980. The chapters on Cosmology are well written and have a number of excellent problems but it predates the discovery that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating, Dark Energy and Dark Matter. This book is such a classic that I will never understand why Dr. Shu never wrote any additional editions of it that would include all the things we have learned since 1980.


Basic Principles
Classical Mechanics Light
Astronomical Telescopes
The Great Laws
The HR Diagram of Star Clusters
Globular Clusters
Binary Stars
Spiral Structure
The Material Between the Stars 211
The Creation of the Material World
Origin of the Solar System
Gravitation and Cosmology 355
Earths Atmosphere

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About the author (1982)

Frank Shu is a Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 1968. Shu has written a number of expository articles for the lay public, and is the author of The Physics of Astrophysics, Volumes I and II. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Academia Sinica.

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