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Dr. Richard Ignace authors new introductory astronomy textbook

Dr. Richard Ignace

JOHNSON CITY (Nov. 1, 2013) – “Astro4U: An Introduction to the Science of the Cosmos” is a new astronomy textbook by East Tennessee State University astrophysicist Dr. Richard Ignace.

This textbook is intended for general education survey courses in astronomy that are geared to non-science majors. 

According to Cognella Academic Publishing, it “excites students about the grandeur of astronomy and of how the universe functions.  Filled with vibrant figures and informative tables that support the written text, (it) has a fresh, casual, student-friendly tone that dramatically increases interest in the material while also making it more accessible.”

“Astro4U” is organized in a “traditional” format, with a study of the sky followed by information on ancient and medieval astronomy, modern scientific practices and key physical principles. 

Because it is written for non-science majors, who often express concern about the mathematical content in astronomy classes, the book begins with a chapter that reviews math skills and concepts that will be needed for the course. 

Other chapters focus on the solar system, galaxies and the cosmos as a whole, and many chapters include a “Ponder Section” with in-depth passages on such topics as space junk, the solar energy budget and light travel time.

Ignace said that “Astro4U” is more “streamlined in its coverage” of the subject matter than many other textbooks.  These, he says, “are excellent books” but are sometimes more technical and detailed than is necessary for non-science majors.

Such students often “end up buying a book but reading only a tiny fraction of it,” Ignace said.  “I wanted to create a book that students would read, or at least read in greater proportion, by pitching it as a get-to-the-point text that emphasizes the highlights of the subjects covered.  To read the book is to study for the exam.”

Ignace is a professor in the ETSU College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Physics and Astronomy.  He holds a Ph.D. in astronomy and two master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin and spent three years as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Glasgow, Scotland.

His areas of research include stellar astrophysics and observational astronomy using primarily NASA’s orbiting telescopes.  He has received grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation to support his research on stellar winds.