Top Astronomy Textbooks

This webpage provides an up-to-date list of the top astronomy textbooks.
Rankings are based upon the number of syllabi in which a astronomy book has appeared since 2015 (source:
The most recent edition of each book is provided.

1.  The Cosmic Perspective (9th Edition)

Author(s): Jeffrey O. Bennett, Megan O. Donahue, Nicholas Schneider, Mark Voit
Publication date: 2019-02-14
ISBN: 0134874366
ISBN-13: 9780134874364

Building on a long tradition of effective pedagogy and comprehensive coverage, The Cosmic Perspective, 9th Edition, provides a thoroughly engaging and up-to-date introduction to astronomy for anyone who is curious about the universe, regardless of prior background in astronomy or physics. As respected teachers and active researchers, the authors present astronomy using a coherent narrative and a thematic approach that engages students immediately and guides them through connecting ideas. This engagement-centered approach and variety of contextualizing features enhance student understanding of the process of science and actively involve them in learning key concepts.

2.  The Essential Cosmic Perspective (8th Edition)

Author(s): Jeffrey O Bennett, Megan O. Donahue, Nicholas Schneider, Mark Voit
Publication date: 2017-01-13
ISBN: 0134446437
ISBN-13: 9780134446431

This 8th Edition of The Essential Cosmic Perspective provides readers without science backgrounds with a streamlined, cutting-edge introduction to astronomy. Built on a strong tradition of effective pedagogy and coverage, the text focuses on skill-building and includes group work exercises that require active participation. Dedicated to bringing an understanding of the universe, its scientific basis and its relevance to our lives, each chapter is written to specific learning goals that build an ideal learning path for readers. Aiming to foster a lifelong learning experience, the authors focus on key concepts, providing big picture context, promoting conceptual understanding, and preferring plain language to jargon.

3.  Astronomy Today (9th Edition)

Author(s): Eric Chaisson, Steve McMillan
Publication date: 2017-02-18
ISBN: 0134450272
ISBN-13: 9780134450278

Astronomy Today is a trusted text that offers the most complete and innovative learning package available for introductory astronomy. The goal of the book is to focus on the process of discovery and to better convey how science is done.

4.  Discovering the Universe (11th Edition)

Author(s): Neil F. Comins
Publication date: 2018-12-21
ISBN: 1319055397
ISBN-13: 9781319055394

Combining a student-centered approach with the reliability of a familiar and proven text, Discovering the Universe invites students to follow their curiosity and ask questions about astronomy, through features including What If? questions that explore alternative solar systems and universes and Meet the Discoverer interviews with working scientists throughout the text.

5.  21st Century Astronomy (6th Edition)

Author(s): Laura Kay, Stacy Palen, George Blumenthal
Publication date: 2019-07-01
ISBN: 0393675505
ISBN-13: 9780393675504

Informed by astronomy education research, the Sixth Edition of 21st Century Astronomy reflects an emphasis on learning by doing. This emphasis is reinforced through thoughtful pedagogy and an innovative teaching and learning package. Students get to interact with astronomy while instructors receive the resources they need to incorporate active learning into the classroom.

6.  Universe (11th Edition)

Author(s): Robert Geller, Roger Freedman, William J. Kaufmann
Publication date: 2019-01-09
ISBN: 1319039448
ISBN-13: 9781319039448

Universe strikes the right balance between scientific rigor, student comprehension, and excitement. Available as the full 27-chapter text or split into Stars and Galaxies and The Solar System, Universe provides all the detail you need to prepare students for engaging with astronomical ideas and theories, while also inviting students to explore through stunning visuals and relatable narratives.

7.  Horizons: Exploring the Universe (14th Edition)

Author(s): Michael A. Seeds, Dana Backman
Publication date: 2017-01-01
ISBN: 1305960963
ISBN-13: 9781305960961

Focusing on two central questions -- "What are we?" and "How Do We Know?" -- Horizons: Exploring the Universe, 14th Edition, helps you understand our place in the universe and how scientists work. Chapter-opening "Guideposts" and a conversational writing style make the content accessible and help you acquire an understanding of the universe (rather than just memorize basic facts); and online resources let you study where and when you want, to best meet your individual learning style.

8.  Astronomy: A Beginner's Guide to the Universe (8th Edition)

Author(s): Eric Chaisson, Steve McMillan
Publication date: 2016-01-13
ISBN: 0134087704
ISBN-13: 9780134087702

With the Eighth Edition of Astronomy: A Beginner’s Guide , trusted authors Eric Chaisson and Steve McMillan bring a renewed freshness and analysis to recent changes in our understanding of the cosmos. As with the other two books in their Astronomy suite (one for two-semester courses and the other, a brief visual book), the authors continue to emphasize three major themes: the process of science, the size and scale of the universe, and the evolution of the cosmos. This new edition ignites reader interest with new discoveries from the latest space missions and a new focus on reader-oriented engagement.

9.  Explorations: Introduction to Astronomy

Author(s): Thomas Arny, Stephen Schneider
Publication date: 2016-01-07
ISBN: 0073513911
ISBN-13: 9780073513911

The eighth edition of Explorations: An Introduction to Astronomy strives to share with students a sense of wonder about the universe and the dynamic, ever-changing science of astronomy. Written for students of various educational backgrounds, Explorations emphasizes current information, a visually exciting art package, accessible writing, and accuracy.

10.  Pathways to Astronomy (5th Edition)

Author(s): Stephen E. Schneider, Thomas T. Arny
Publication date: 2017-02-06
ISBN: 1259722627
ISBN-13: 9781259722622

Pathways to Astronomy breaks down introductory astronomy into its component parts. The huge and fascinating field of astronomy is divided into 86 units. These units are woven together to flow naturally for the person who wants to read the text like a book. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.