© 2015

A Student's Guide Through the Great Physics Texts

Volume I: The Heavens and The Earth


  • Provides a comprehensive introduction to physics based on foundational texts in physics and astronomy

  • Contains a coherent and self-contained general physics curriculum which can be readily implemented at the college or advanced high-school level

  • Encourages a critical and circumspect approach to the study of natural science, while developing a suitable foundation for advanced coursework in physics


Part of the Undergraduate Lecture Notes in Physics book series (ULNP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxvii
  2. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 1-8
  3. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 9-15
  4. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 17-25
  5. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 27-39
  6. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 41-60
  7. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 61-72
  8. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 73-83
  9. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 85-100
  10. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 101-116
  11. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 117-128
  12. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 129-142
  13. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 143-152
  14. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 153-172
  15. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 173-184
  16. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 185-200
  17. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 201-213
  18. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 215-225
  19. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 227-247
  20. Kerry Kuehn
    Pages 249-258

About this book


This book provides a chronological introduction to the sciences of astronomy and cosmology based on the reading and analysis of significant selections from classic texts, such as Ptolemy’s Almagest, Kepler’s Epitome of Copernican Astronomy, Shapley’s Galaxies, and Lemaître’s The Primeval Atom.

Each chapter begins with a short introduction followed by a reading selection. Carefully crafted study questions draw out key points in the text and focus the reader’s attention on the author’s methods, analysis, and conclusions. Numerical and observational exercises at the end of each chapter test the reader’s ability to understand and apply key concepts from the text. 

The Heavens and the Earth is the first of four volumes in A Student’s Guide Through the Great Physics Texts. This book grew out of a four-semester undergraduate physics curriculum designed to encourage a critical and circumspect approach to natural science, while at the same time preparing students for advanced coursework in physics.  

This book is particularly suitable as a college-level textbook for students of the natural sciences, history, or philosophy. It also serves as a textbook for advanced high-school students, or as a thematically-organized source-book for scholars and motivated lay-readers. In studying the classic scientific texts included herein, the reader will be drawn toward a lifetime of contemplation.


analysis of classics cosmology texts collection of major physics texts foundational science texts foundational texts in physics great physics texts history of science book history of science textbook important physicists important texts in physics introduction to Astronomy introduction to Cosmology physics and astronomy text physics history textbook science of motion significant developments in physics and astronomy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Wisconsin Lutheran CollegeMilwaukeeUSA

About the authors

Kerry Kuehn is Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at Wisconsin Lutheran College. He is a member of the American Physical Society and an Advisory Council member for NASA Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium and Fidelitas (WLC Honors Program).

He has designed and taught courses including "The Heavens and the Earth," "Space, Time and Motion," "Electricity, Magnetism and Light," and "Computerized Instrumentation and Design."

Bibliographic information


“Kuehn (Wisconsin Lutheran College) attempts to cover the gamut of knowledge discerned by astronomers and physicists over many centuries, ranging from the distant skies to the atom. … Kuehn then elaborates on crucial questions and provides students with exercises and a few experimental/observational activities. … Copious notes, good references, diagrams and illustrations. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates and researchers/faculty.” (N. Sadanand, Choice, Vol. 52 (9), May, 2015)