Books for astrophysic beginners?

The non amateur stuff. Hawking, black holes, that sort of thing

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AstroGeek
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Books for astrophysic beginners?

Post by AstroGeek »

Hi everyone. I ran across this forum while searching for places to learn. I am a totally self-teaching beginner and would like to know if there are any books I can get that will help me understand the basics. I know some things just by my own reading and research and am mainly interested in black holes and dark matter/energy. But I am also open to other things. I read a book a few years ago but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was. It was very easy to understand and came in a question and answer format. It was around 150 pages or a little more. Does anyone have any book ideas for a beginner but very smart person who learns easily without it being too technical? Thanks in advance and I am happy to have found this forum. I am getting a bit obsessed with physics now and can't wait to learn more. It is sooo fascinating!
cgdtaylor
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Re: Books for astrophysic beginners?

Post by cgdtaylor »

Have you thought of taking a online MOOC course?

Currently I am taking a very detailed Intro to Astronomy from Duke University on the Coursera platform. It has covered such subjects as HR plots, star formation and evolution, relativity and cosmological expansion. Its physics is limited to algebra and therefore no calculus (thankfully!)

Whilst this course is close to finishing, there are similar ones available over the range of MOOC platforms and they are free!

In addition, I have bought some second-hand first year university level astronomy textbooks via Abebooks. The new additions are hugely expensive but go a few editions back and you buy them for a few pounds.

Best wishes with your studies - Graham
AstroGeek
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Re: Books for astrophysic beginners?

Post by AstroGeek »

Thanks Graham! No I havent looked into online classes but that is a great idea. I live in the US so I hope that doesnt matter. I will look on Abebooks. Thefe are some on Amazon also but I hate to buy the books online before I can peruse through them quickly to see if its what I need.

I appreciate your reply. It's hard to know where to start when I am self-taught. I wont give up though!
cgdtaylor
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Re: Books for astrophysic beginners?

Post by cgdtaylor »

No problem about accessing MOOCs from the US. Indeed many of the best are from your most prestigious colleges including Harvard & MIT. If you complete the various 'homework' exercises you can even get a certificate of completion although I think they charge a small fee for them. The courses also have forums where you can ask questions and communicate with fellow students.

The the platforms I have used are Coursera & Futurelearn; however, this type of course requires a student to start at a specific date. Udemy too has a very good free course which I believe you can start any time.

For my 'Intro to Astronomy' course I bought via Abebooks and Amazon (used books) Universe by Kaufmann which was the professor's recommended text and Astronomy Now by Chaission & McMillan. These are first year university level texts rather than amateur introductions and also astronomy focussed rather than specifically on astrophysics - I have learned a huge amount reading them. By the way their total cost would be around $20.

Hope this is helpful - Graham
starmap
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Re: Books for astrophysic beginners?

Post by starmap »

Martin Rees writes with authority and depth. Six numbers is very good, and there are others.
joe
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Re: Books for astrophysic beginners?

Post by joe »

The Foundations of Modern cosmology

and

Cosmology: The Science of the Universe

are also two excellent books for the serious beginner. The prices on Amazon are shocking so I hope they are available elsewhere for a more reasonable outlay.

(I'm assuming here that Cosmology = Astrophysics but maybe you aren't?)
200mm Newtonian, OMC140, ETX90, 15x70 Binoculars.
AstroGeek
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Re: Books for astrophysic beginners?

Post by AstroGeek »

Thanks everyone for the helpful information. It is greatly appreciated. Graham I just wanted to let you know I have signed up on MOOC! I enrolled in three classes: Astronomy and The Universe, Chemistry, and Basic Physics. They are all free. The credits wont transfer to an "accredited college" but Ii'm noy worried about that. I just want to learn and it seems like a great place to accomplish that. Thanks again.
cgdtaylor
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Re: Books for astrophysic beginners?

Post by cgdtaylor »

Best wishes with your courses - Graham
starmap
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Re: Books for astrophysic beginners?

Post by starmap »

Future learn has a MOOC on 'moons' starting soon. Not quite what you are after but maybe of interest to others.
If anyone has experience of these it would be useful to share it.
starmap
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Re: Books for astrophysic beginners?

Post by starmap »

edx offer 4 Moocs intended to give an overview of astrophysics. Can be taken individually. You need some basic physics and maths for this.
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