This book is for people who want to learn basic astronomy without taking a formal course. It also can serve as a supplemental text in a classroom, tutored, or home-schooling environment. I recommend that you start at the beginning of this book and go straight through.
In this book, we’ll go on a few “mind journeys.” For example, we’ll take a tour of the entire Solar System, riding hybrid space/aircraft into the atmospheres and, in some cases, to the surfaces of celestial bodies other than Earth. Some of the details of this trip constitute fiction, but the space vehicles and navigational mechanics are based on realistic technology and astronomical facts.
This book is about astronomy, not cosmology. A full discussion of theories concerning the origin, structure, and evolution of the Universe would constitute a full course in itself. While the so-called Big Bang theory is mentioned, arguments supporting it (or refuting it) are beyond the scope of this volume. The fundamentals of relativity theory are covered; these ideas are nowhere near as difficult to understand as many people seem to believe. Space travel and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence are discussed as well.
This book contains an abundance of practice quiz, test, and exam questions. They are all multiple-choice and are similar to the sorts of questions used in standardized tests. There is a short quiz at the end of every chapter. The quizzes are “open book.”You may (and should) refer to the chapter texts when taking them. When you think you’re ready, take the quiz, write down your answers, and then give your list of answers to a friend. Have your friend tell you your score but not which questions you got wrong. The answers are listed in the back of the book. Stick with a chapter until you get most of the answers correct.
This book is divided into several major sections. At the end of each section is a multiple-choice test. Take these tests when you’re done with the respective sections and have taken all the chapter quizzes. The section tests are “closed book.” Don’t look back at the text when taking them. The questions are not as hard as those in the quizzes, and they don’t require that you memorize trivial things. A satisfactory score is three-quarters of the answers correct. Again, answers are in the back of the book.