© 2013

Essential Astrophysics


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

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 1-31
  3. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 33-67
  4. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 69-98
  5. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 99-124
  6. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 125-158
  7. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 159-189
  8. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 191-213
  9. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 215-254
  10. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 255-292
  11. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 293-355
  12. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 357-380
  13. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 381-410
  14. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 411-470
  15. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 471-521
  16. Kenneth R. Lang
    Pages 561-606
  17. Back Matter
    Pages 607-635

About this book


Essential Astrophysics is a book to learn or teach from, as well as a fundamental reference volume for anyone interested in astronomy and astrophysics. It presents astrophysics from basic principles without requiring any previous study of astronomy or astrophysics. It serves as a comprehensive introductory text, which takes the student through the field of astrophysics in lecture-sized chapters of basic physical principles applied to the cosmos.

This one-semester overview will be enjoyed by undergraduate students with an interest in the physical sciences, such as astronomy, chemistry, engineering or physics, as well as by any curious student interested in learning about our celestial science. The mathematics required for understanding the text is on the level of simple algebra, for that is all that is needed to describe the fundamental principles. The text is of sufficient breadth and depth to prepare the interested student for more advanced specialized courses in the future. Astronomical examples are provided throughout the text, to reinforce the basic concepts and physics, and to demonstrate the use of the relevant formulae. In this way, the student learns to apply the fundamental equations and principles to cosmic objects and situations.

All of the examples are solved with the rough accuracy needed to portray the basic result. Astronomical and physical constants and units as well as the most fundamental equations can be found in the appendix. Essential Astrophysics goes beyond the typical textbook by including references to the seminal papers in the field, with further reference to recent applications, results, or specialized literature.

There are fifty set-aside focus elements that enhance and augment the discussion with fascinating details. They include the intriguing historical development of particular topics and provide further astrophysics equations or equations for other topics.


Kenneth Lang is a world-renowned author on astrophysics. His books for professional astrophysicists as well as for students and the interested layman are highly acclaimed. 


Astronomy Textbook Astrophysics Course Astrophysics Primer Astrophysics for Undergraduates Entry-level Astronomy

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

About the authors

Kenneth R. Lang is professor in the Astronomy and Astrophysics group at Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA. He is the author of several successful books (textbooks and popular science books) including "Astrophysical Formulae", "The Sun from Space" or "Parting the Cosmic Veil".

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

“This work fills a unique position in the literature. It is a concrete, middle-level treatment that devotes as much attention to methods of research and observation as it does to results. Here at last is a book in English which bridges the gap between elementary introductory accounts and advanced technical monographs. … It is also a fine book for hobbyists and others with some grounding in astronomy who want to explore these matters in greater depth than elementary texts allow.” (Philosophy, Religion and Science Book Reviews,, May, 2014)

“This set of lecture notes on astrophysics discusses the topics that would be taught in an introductory undergraduate class. The text is sufficiently comprehensive to be used as the principle textbook for a lecture course or for self-study. … the references are excellent, enabling those who need more detail to find information quickly. The book will be easy to follow for anyone with a solid background in lower-level undergraduate physics. A valuable acquisition for academic library collections. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.” (A. Spero, Choice, Vol. 51 (6), February, 2014)