Higher Education

The Solar System, 8th Edition

  • Michael A. Seeds Joseph A. Grundy Observatory
  • Dana Backman
  • ISBN-10: 1111990654  |  ISBN-13: 9781111990657
  • 464 Pages
  • © 2013 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $131.25
  • Newer Edition Available
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Fascinating, engaging, and extremely visual, THE SOLAR SYSTEM Eighth Edition emphasizes the scientific method throughout as it guides students to answer two fundamental questions: What are we? And how do we know? Updated with the newest developments and latest discoveries in the exciting study of astronomy, authors Michael Seeds and Dana Backman discuss the interplay between evidence and hypothesis, while providing not only fact but also a conceptual framework for understanding the logic of science.

Features and Benefits

  • CengageNOW Personalized Study is a diagnostic tool consisting of a chapter-specific Pre-Test, Study Plan and Post-test that utilizes valuable text-specific assets to empower students to master concepts, prepare for exams and be more involved in class.
  • THE SOLAR SYSTEM 8th Edition includes a twenty page bridge chapter that provides an overview of the material from the chapters not included in this shorter text. The authors have included updates and new photos in the 8th edition.
  • For the Eighth Edition, several elements have been designed to help students develop a stronger understanding of the big picture. Chapter-opening "Guideposts" connect previous and subsequent chapters to the material students are about to read, highlighting the "essential questions" within the current chapter. These essential questions act as the organizing elements in chapter summaries to encourage students to gain a deeper understanding of the material rather than just memorize a list of facts.
  • The authors' thematic emphasis on the scientific method is emphasized throughout. "How Do We Know?" boxes highlight great moments in science from various disciplines to illustrate the logical processes scientists use to learn about nature. End-of-section "Scientific Argument" features offer a carefully designed question to help students review key concepts. The short answers that follow emphasize how scientists construct logical arguments from observations, evidence, theories, and natural laws. An additional question gives students a chance to construct their own argument on a related issue.
  • A unique art program showcases this visual science in a consistent, striking new style. The hallmark Concept Art Spreads are numbered and emphasized in text narratives, making these two-page visual summaries easy to analyze and synthesize. Concept Figures combine art and text, encouraging students to synthesize information as a unified concept. Guided Discovery Figures provide insightful comments as they lead students through several frames of art, demonstrating processes that occur over time. All H-R diagrams are consistently designed to help students understand the main idea at a glance.
  • In addition, chapter content comes to life with many new and captivating photographs from the Spitzer Infrared Observatory, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as new images of Saturn, its rings, and its moons from the Cassini spacecraft.
  • Enhanced WebAssign for Seeds' THE SOLAR SYSTEM, 8th Edition – Exclusively from Cengage Learning, Enhanced WebAssign® combines the exceptional Astronomy content that you know and love with the most powerful online homework solution, WebAssign. Enhanced WebAssign engages students with immediate feedback, rich tutorial content and interactive eBooks helping students to develop a deeper conceptual understanding of their subject matter. Online assignments can be built by selecting from hundreds of text-specific problems or supplemented with problems from any Cengage Learning textbook.
  • The Cengage YouBook helps students go beyond just reading the textbook. Students can also highlight the text, add their own notes, and bookmark the text. Animations and videos play right on the page at the point of learning so that they're not speed bumps to reading but true enhancements.
  • TheSkyX Student Edition includes a CD-based planetarium software option that provides ultimate flexibility for designing your course. Topics include the different types of sky coordinates, motions of the Earth and planetary objects, naming conventions and locations of astronomical bodies, lunar phases, solar and lunar eclipses, and sidereal time.

Table of Contents

1. Here and Now.
Where Are You? When Is Now? Why Study Astronomy?
2. A User's Guide to the Sky.
The Stars. The Sky and Celestial Motion. The Cycles of the Sun. Astronomical Influences on Earth's Climate.
3. Cycles of the Moon.
The Changeable Moon. Lunar Eclipses. Solar Eclipses. Predicting Eclipses.
4. The Origin of Modern Astronomy.
The Roots of Astronomy. The Copernican Revolution. Planetary Motion. Galileo Galilei. Modern Astronomy.
5. Gravity.
Galileo and Newton. Orbital Motion and Tides. Einstein and Relativity.
6. Light and Telescopes.
Radiation: Information from Space. Telescopes. Observations on Earth: Optical and Radio. Airborne and Space Observatories. Astronomical Instruments and Techniques. Nonelectromagnetic Astronomy.
7. Atoms and Spectra.
Atoms. Interactions of Light and Matter. Understanding Spectra.
8. The Sun.
The Solar Atmosphere. Solar Activity. Nuclear Fusion in the Sun. Perspective: Origins.
19. The Origin of the Solar System.
The Great Chain of Origins. A Survey of the Solar System. The Story of Planet Building. Planets Orbiting Other Stars.
20. Earth: The Standard of Comparative Planetology.
A Travel Guide to the Terrestrial Planets. Earth as a Planet. The Solid Earth. Earth's Atmosphere.
21. The Moon and Mercury: Comparing Airless Worlds.
The Moon. Mercury.
22. Comparative Planetology of Venus and Mars.
Venus. Mars. The Moons of Mars.
23. Jupiter and Saturn.
A Travel Guide to the Outer Solar System. Jupiter. Jupiter's Moons and Rings. Saturn. Saturn's Moons and Rings.
24. Uranus, Neptune, and the Kuiper Belt.
Uranus. Neptune. The Kuiper Belt.
25. Meteorites, Asteroids, and Comets.
Meteoroids, Meteors, and Meteorites. Asteroids. Comets. Asteroid and Comet Impacts.
26. Astrobiology: Life on Other Worlds.
The Nature of Life. Life in the Universe. Intelligent Life in the Universe.
Appendix A: Units and Astronomical Data.
Fundamental and Derived SI Units.
Appendix B. Observing the Sky.

What's New

  • Completely updated to reflect the newest developments from the field and thoroughly revised for better student comprehension.
  • The latest updates on Earth-based giant telescopes and giant radio telescopes.
  • NEW information emphasizing observations over the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Reordered subsections on star formation that place structure first and energy generation last.
  • Clarified discussions of white dwarfs and supernovae.
  • Revised coverage of neutron stars.
  • NEW insight on global warming and ozone depletion.
  • NEW section on extremophiles.
  • Additionally, new "How Do We Know" text boxes were added with significant text updates based on external technical review. These boxes highlight great moments in science from various disciplines to illustrate the logical processes scientists use to learn about nature. At least one review question per chapter refers to each "How Do We Know?" discussion which provides students with a review and suggests ways in which instructors could test this material.
  • All chapters have been updated to clarify language to better reflect professional usage and reorganized for better claritY.
  • Key terms no longer appear as a list in the Summary, but are incorporated in bold faced terms (with page numbers) in the chapter summary. This puts them in context and will help students relate the terms to the discussion.
  • Can now bundle with Virtual Astronomy Labs 2.0, an online, interactive way for students to explore astronomy and allow them to have a hands-on lab experience from their computers. Enhance students' understanding of the scientific method with the Virtual Astronomy Labs 2.0. Focusing on 20 of the most important concepts in astronomy, the labs offer students hands-on exercises that complement text topics. Instructors can set up classes online and view student results. Exercise and quiz results are tracked automatically in the gradebook. Version 2.0 has been completely revised. The labs now include more animations, photos, and illustrations. Exercise and quizzes provide score information and feedback upon submission. Labs are correlated to learning objectives and "The Big Ideas."

Learning Resource Bundles

Choose the textbook packaged with the resources that best meet your course and student needs. Contact your Learning Consultant for more information.

Bundle: Text + Enhanced WebAssign with eBook LOE Printed Access Card for One-Term Math and Science

ISBN-10: 1285042492 | ISBN-13: 9781285042497

List Price = $180.95  | CengageBrain Price = $180.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $136.25

This Bundle Includes:

  • The Solar System
    List Price = $174.95  | CengageBrain Price = $174.95  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $131.25
  • Enhanced WebAssign Printed Access Card for Astronomy, Single-Term Courses
    List Price = $94.00  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $70.50


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the main title. Select the main title's "About" tab, then select "What's New" for updates specific to title's edition.

For more information about these supplements, or to obtain them, contact your Learning Consultant.

Instructor Supplements

PowerLecture  (ISBN-10: 1133110681 | ISBN-13: 9781133110682)

This CD-ROM (or DVD) provides the instructor with dynamic media tools for teaching. Create, deliver, and customize tests (both print and online) in minutes with ExamView® Computerized Testing. A comprehensive Instructor's Manual contains additional lectures and key instructor resources, including suggested course syllabi; listings of main concepts; chapter outlines and notes; classroom demonstrations; answers to review, end-of-chapter, and critical inquiry questions; recommended readings; and a complete test bank with answers. Microsoft® PowerPoint® lecture slides and figures from the book are also included on this CD-ROM (or DVD). Use Join In to turn your lectures into an interactive learning environment that promotes conceptual understanding. Available exclusively for higher education from our partnership with Turning Technologies, JoinIn™ is the easiest way to turn your lecture hall into a personal, fully interactive experience for your students! JoinIn on TurningPoint is simply the easiest, most powerful, completely interactive Microsoft® PowerPoint® tool available today. By using JoinIn, you can pose text-specific questions to a large group, gather results, and display students' answers seamlessly.

Student Supplements

Enhanced WebAssign Instant Access for Astronomy, Single-Term Courses  (ISBN-10: 1285858425 | ISBN-13: 9781285858425)

IMPORTANT: When purchasing this printed access card for Astronomy, ensure that you are using it in an Astronomy course. Use with a different course may cause complications with access. Exclusively from Cengage Learning, Enhanced WebAssign combines exceptional mathematics content with the most powerful online homework solution, WebAssign. Enhanced WebAssign engages students with immediate feedback, rich tutorial content, and an interactive, fully customizable eBook, Cengage YouBook helping students to develop a deeper conceptual understanding of their subject matter. This access code includes access to Enhanced WebAssign and life-of-edition access to the eBook for the registered edition of that text. If you need to retake the course and your instructor is using the same book AND edition then you will not need to buy a new code. If you are not certain this is the correct access code for your course, please contact your instructor.

List Price = $94.00  | CengageBrain Price = $94.00  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $94.00

Meet the Author

Author Bio

Michael A. Seeds

Mike Seeds was a professor of physics and astronomy at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from 1970 until his retirement in 2001. In 1989 he received F&M College’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. Mike’s love for the history of astronomy led him to create upper-level courses on archaeoastronomy and on the Copernican Revolution (“Changing Concepts of the Universe”). His research interests focused on variable stars and automation of astronomical telescopes. Mike is coauthor with Dana Backman of Horizons: Exploring the Universe, 12th edition (2012); Universe: Solar Systems, Stars, and Galaxies, 7th edition (2012); Stars and Galaxies, 8th edition (2013); The Solar System, 8th edition (2013); and ASTRO, 2nd edition (2013), all published by Cengage. He was senior consultant for creation of the 20-episode telecourse accompanying his book Horizons: Exploring the Universe.

Dana Backman

Dana Backman taught in the physics and astronomy department at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from 1991 until 2003. He invented and taught a course titled “Life in the Universe” in F&M’s interdisciplinary Foundations program. Dana now teaches introductory Solar System astronomy at Santa Clara University and introductory astronomy, astrobiology, and cosmology courses in Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program. His research interests focus on infrared observations of planet formation, models of debris disks around nearby stars, and evolution of the solar system’s Kuiper belt. Dana is employed by the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, as director of education and public outreach for SOFIA (the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Dana is coauthor with Mike Seeds of Horizons: Exploring the Universe, 14th edition (2018); Universe: Solar Systems, Stars, and Galaxies, 7th edition (2012); Stars and Galaxies, 8th edition (2013); The Solar System, 8th edition (2013); and ASTRO, 2nd edition (2013), all published by Cengage.