Reaching for the Stars

Physics and Astronomy Dept. Chair Laura Kay’s textbook covers the cosmos

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm

cover, 21st century astronomyIf the first photos ever taken of a cosmic black hole, revealed in April, piqued your interest in things celestial, Barnard’s got a resource for you. Namely, the textbook 21st Century Astronomy, co-authored by Professor Laura Kay, chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department.

Due out in July, this sixth-edition primer for nonmajors (and nonstudents) leads readers through topics such as “Thinking Like an Astronomer,” “Gravity and Orbits,” and, of course, “Relativity and Black Holes.”

Designed to make learning interactive, the textbook comes complete with a first-of-its-kind video game. Links to active telescopes and spacecraft missions enable users to “get the latest results and observations,” Kay says, as do connections to citizen science projects, which allow nonscientists to contribute to the analysis of new astronomical data. 

“It’s a great book for people who aren’t students but who are interested in astronomy,” says Kay’s co-author Stacy Palen, of Weber State University. With 21st Century Astronomy, the only limit is the sky.