Sonoma State University
Astronomy 350
J.S. Tenn

Cosmology Books and Links

Note: Except for the removal of dead links, this site has not really been updated since the author retired in 2009.

Some Good Books

Adams, Fred & Greg Laughlin, The Five Ages of the Universe (Free Press, Simon & Schuster, 1999).
Takes the very, very long view.

Croswell, Ken, The Universe at Midnight: Observations Illuminating the Cosmos( Free Press, 2001).
Used as a text for Astronomy 350 Cosmology in Spring 2008.

Duncan, Todd & Craig Tyler, Your Cosmic Context (Pearson Addison Wesley, San Francisco, 2009).
If we were going to use a single textbook for Cosmology this would probably be it.

Freeman, Ken & Geoff McNamara, In Search of Dark Matter (Springer/Praxis, 2006).
Used as a text for Astronomy 350 Cosmology in Spring 2008.

Freedman, W.L., ed., Carnegie Observatories Astrophysics Series, Vol. 2: Measuring and Modeling the Universe (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, UK, 2004).
The proceedings of a symposium held in Pasadena in 2002 (before the WMAP results became available), this is somewhat above the level of Astronomy 350, but students may get something out of these papers by leading cosmologists. Download papers from the website.

Goldsmith, Donald, Einstein‘s Greatest Blunder? (Harvard U.P., Cambridge, MA, 1995).
All about the reintroduction of the cosmological constant. Note date.

Greene, Brian, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory (Norton, NY, 1999).
Excellent book, not easy reading. See the elaborate website of the television series based on the book.

Greene, Brian, The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality (Knopf, NY, 2004).

Guth, Alan H., The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1997).
Excellent book. Would make a good text if you have a bit of science background.

Harrison, Edward R., Cosmology: The Science of the Universe, 2nd ed. (Cambridge U.P., Cambridge, 2000).
Probably the best real textbook of cosmology for the nontechnical reader. It contains much history, philosophy, and wisdom.

Hawking, Stephen W., The Universe in a Nutshell (Bantam Doubleday Dell, NY, 2001).

Hawley, John F. and Katherine A. Holcomb, Foundations of Modern Cosmology (Oxford U.P., 1998).
A textbook for a course such as this one.

Hetherington, N., ed., Encyclopedia of Cosmology (Garland, NY, 1993).
This valuable book is easier to use with a table of contents.

Kaku, Michio, Parallel Worlds: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos (Doubleday, Random House, 2005).

Kirshner, Robert P., The Extravagant Universe (Princeton Univ. Press, 2002).
Used as a text for Astronomy 350 Cosmology in Spring 2008.

Kolb, Rocky, Blind Watchers of the Sky: The People and Ideas that Shaped Our View of the Universe (Addison Wesley, Reading, MA, 1996).

Kragh, Helge, Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, 1996).
A thoroughly-researched history of the rise and fall of the steady state theory, with much more on twentieth century cosmology.

Kragh, Helge S., Conceptions of Cosmos: From Myths to the Accelerating Unverse: A History of Cosmology (Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK, 2007).
Another thorough book by a leading historian of science.

Krauss, Lawrence, Atom: An Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth...and Beyond (Little, Brown, 2001).

Krauss, Lawrence, Quintessence: The Mystery of Missing Mass in the Universe (Basic Books, NY, 2000).

Lemonick, Michael D., Echo of the Big Bang (Princeton Univ. Press, 2003).
This book by a science journalist describes the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe and its results on the cosmic microwave background radiation. Hastily written, with many errors, it does present what it is like to prepare a space mission.

Levin, Janna, How the Universe Got Its Spots (Princeton Univ. Press, 2002).
An excellent informal account of the topology of the Universe. The author gave a talk with the same title in SSU‘s “What Physicists Do” series in 1998. The videotape is in the SSU Library.

Liddle, Andrew, An Introduction to Modern Cosmology (Wiley, Chichester, UK, 1999, 2003).
An excellent little book for those who have had some physics and mathematics, this is a text for an undergraduate course. If you would like to see the equations behind our discussion, this is the place.

Lightman, A. & R. Brawer, Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists (Harvard U.P., 1990).
Interviews with a number of leading scientists. Excellent source for a paper on a cosmologist. .

Lincoln, Don, Understanding the Universe: from Quarks to the Cosmos (World Scientific, 2004).
Excellent for those who want to learn more about particle physics and its interaction with cosmology.

Livio, Mario, The Accelerating Universe: Infinite Expansion, the Cosmological Constant, and the Beauty of the Cosmos (Wiley, NY, 2000).
Includes more art history than the average cosmology book; highly recommended.

Longair, Malcolm, The Cosmic Century: A History of Astrophysics and Cosmology (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006).
Thorougly researched history by a leading theoretical astronomer.

North, J., The Norton History of Astronomy and Cosmology (Norton, NY, 1994).

Overbye, D., Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos (HarperCollins, 1991).
A great book on cosmologists and how they work.

Primack, Joel R. & Nancy Ellen Abrams, The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos (Riverhead Books, 2006)
“This book’s attempt at seeking meaning through history, symbols, imagery, metaphors, and contemplation, as well as straight scientific explanation, is not entirely cosmology, but perhaps it is the point of cosmology.”

Quinn, Helen & Yossi Nir, The Mystery of the Missing Antimatter (Princeton Univ. Press, 2008)
The history of antimatter and recent advances in particle physics and cosmology, presented by two leading physicists.

Rees, Martin J., Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces that Shape the Universe (Basic Books, NY, 1999).

Rees, Martin J., Our Cosmic Habitat (Princeton Univ. Press, 2001).

Rubin, Vera C., Bright Galaxies, Dark Matters (American Institute of Physics, NY, 1997).
By one of today's leading astronomers.

Singh, Simon, Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe (Fourth Estate, HarperCollins, 2004).
Used as a text for Astronomy 350 Cosmology in Spring 2008.

Smoot, George & Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time (Wm. Morrow & Co., NY, 1993; Avon Books, 1993).
A first-person account of the discovery of the anisotropies in the CMB.

Stern, S. Alan, ed., Our Universe: the Thrill of Extragalactic Exploration as Told by Leading Experts (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, UK & New York, 2001).
“A collection of essays on extragalactic astronomy and cosmology by some of the world‘s foremost astrophysicists. ...Each of the ten contributors offers a personal perspective on their work, revealing what motivates them and how their careersand lives have been shaped by their desire to understand our universe.”

Susskind, Leonard, The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design (Little, Brown, 2005).
Highly recommended. An excellent, nonmathematical introduction to string theory and the anthropic principle.

Thorne, K.S., Black Holes and Time Warps (Norton, NY, 1994).
Highly recommended.

Webb, Stephen, Measuring the Universe: The Cosmological Distance Ladder (Springer/Praxis, Chichester, UK, 1999).
A detailed explanation of methods of measuring distances, with equations.


Many review articles on extragalactic astronomy may be found at

Bahcall, Neta A., Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Saul Perlmutter, & Paul J. Steinhardt, “The Cosmic Triangle: Revealing the State of the Universe,” Science 284, 1481 (28 May 1999). (SSU students can read it online)
Review article slightly above the level of our course.

Burbidge, Geoffrey, Fred Hoyle and Jayant V. Narlikar, “A Different Approach to Cosmology,” Physics Today 52, 4, 38 (April 1999) and Albrecht, Andreas, “Reply to ‘A Different Approach to Cosmology,‘” Physics Today 52, 4, 44 (April 1999).
A contrary view by proponents of a quasi-steady-state universe with a rebuttal by a mainstream cosmologist.

Freedman, Wendy L., “Determination of Cosmological Parameters,”
Invited review given at the Nobel Symposium, “Particle Physics and the Universe,” Haga Slott, Sweden, August, 1998. Published by World Scientific Press.

Freedman, Wendy L., “The Expansion Rate of the Universe,” Astronomy and Geophysics 43, 1.10-1.14 (Feb 2002).
The 2001 George Darwin Lecture on present and future advances in cosmology, presented to the Royal Astronomical Society.

Glanz, James, “Which Way to the Big Bang” Science 284, 1448 (28 May 1999).
Discussion of various inflationary models.

Guth, Alan H., “Inflation and the New Era of High Precision Cosmology,” MIT Physics Annual, 2002, pp. 28-39.

Guth, Alan H., “Was Cosmic Inflation the ‘Bang’ Of The Big Bang?,” The Beamline 27, 14 (1997).

Hu, Wayne & Martin White, “The Cosmic Symphony,” Scientific American 290, no. 2, 44-53 (2004)
The best explanation I have seen of how the wiggles in the power spectrum of the CMB tell us so much about the universe. This is one of a series of four articles on recent developments in cosmology in the Feb. 2004 issue of the magazine.

Lineweaver, Charles H. & Tamara M. Davis, “Misconceptions about the Big Bang,” Scientific American 292, no. 3, pp. 36-45 (March 2005).
Corrects six common errors.

Perlmutter, Saul, “Supernovae, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Universe,” Physics Today 56, 4, 53-60 (April 2003).
An excellent explanation, quite readable.

Trimble, Virginia, “Cosmology: Man’s Place in the Universe (a Deconstruction),” American Journal of Physics 70, 1175-83 (Dec. 2002).
The 2001 Paul Klopsteg Memorial Lecture, presented to the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Turner, Michael S. & J. Anthony Tyson, “Cosmology at the Millenium,” Reviews of Modern Physics 71S, 145 (1999).
A summary of the standard model as it stood in 1999, just slightly above the level of our course.

A Few Good Websites

Tenn, Joseph S., The Bruce Medalists
Among the more than 100 astronomers awarded the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific are quite a few who made significant contributions to cosmology.

Shellard, Paul, et al, Cambridge Cosmology
This site includes such topics as cosmic string theory.

National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Digital Video Archives
Simulations galore, including “Computing the Universe: X-Ray Clusters in a Cold + Hot Dark Matter Universe” and “Galaxy Cluster Simulation.”

Tenn, Joseph S., Cosmology Since 1900
A historical summary with links.

Wright, Ned, Cosmology Tutorial
Also includes an excellent discussion of topics in the news, frequently asked questions, cosmological fads and fallacies. See also his Relativity Tutorial.

Scott, Douglas, The Cosmic Microwave Background
Includes detailed answers to frequently asked questions from basic to advanced. You can avoid the ugly and distracting background by setting your web browser to use your own colors, such as black text on white background.

Curtis, David, et al, Cosmos in a Computer
An extensive and valuable set of exhibits, animations, etc. from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.

Friedman, S. Morgan, Einstein Online
Much good information about relativity and gravitation.

Carnegie Institution for Science, Everyday Cosmology
A short history of cosmology starting with a timeline.

The High-Z Supernova Search Team, The High-Z Supernova Search
Information for the public from one of the two teams that showed the expansion is accelerating.

Dick, Wolfgang and the Working Group for the History of Astronomy, History of Astronomy
A very complete set of links to Persons, Observatories, topics, and many other subjects. Unfortunately, it is no longer being kept up-to-date.

Gribbin, John, Inflation for Beginners
A readable account from a scientist who has become a very popular science writer. Print it out and read slowly.

Tegmark, Max, Max Tegmark‘s Home Page
Much about precision cosmology, as practiced by the author.

Bothun, Greg, Modern Observational Cosmology
A pair of courses at a more advanced level at the University of Oregon.

Contemporary Physics Education Project, The Particle Adventure
Excellent interactive short course in elementary particle physics.

Hu, Wayne, The Physics of Microwave Background Anisotropies
Includes excellent explanations at multiple levels.

Supernova Cosmology Project Team, The Supernova Cosmology Project
Information for the public from one of the two teams that showed the expansion is accelerating.

Guidry, Mike, Violence in the Cosmos
The author has also posted most of an introductory astronomy course at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe
The official website of the mission that has given new precision to cosmology. Excellent.

Places to Find More

The Imagine! Team, Pathways to Astronomy Education Resources
Includes both web and print sources. Part of the great Imagine the Universe!, a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Redington, Norman, The Net Advance of Physics: Astronomy and Astrophysics
Links to both introductory and advanced material, and to much in between. Try A: Astronomy, Anisotropy of the Cosmic Background; C: Cosmology; etc.

Tenn, Joseph S., Favorite Astronomy Links

White, Martin, Cosmology Reading List
Very extensive list, includes material at various levels.

If You’re Rusty in Introductory Astronomy

See any introductory astronomy text. An excellent text on the web is Astronomy Notes by Nick Strobel. More and more commercial texts are being placed on the web.

You can find many more courses via College-Level Astronomy Courses.

Animations, Music, and Humor

Animations from supercomputer simulations of forming galaxies, star clusters, galaxy clusters, and galaxy interactions are presented as moving portraits of cosmic evolution, accompanied by original music.

The Galaxy Song by Eric Idle
with animations by Camilla Eriksson

The Elements by Tom Lehrer
with flash animation by Mike Stanfill.

Please send comments, additions, corrections, and questions to