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Original request by Artemisia:

I am interested in learning about astronomy from a rigorously mathematical perspective (astrophysics textbooks) whilst enjoying the subtleties of observations and pictures like a Dorling Kindersley book. Any recommendations?

  • $\begingroup$ Like, basically all full page pictures with mathematically rigorous astrophysics on top of them? That's a tall order.. I can include mathematically rigorous books of all levels, but I'm not aware of anything like that. It'd be a cool idea, though. $\endgroup$
    – astromax
    Nov 10, 2013 at 13:40
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    $\begingroup$ Very!. Books are either full of pictures or full of math. I don't mind if it has slightly less rigor and more pictures than a book full of math :) $\endgroup$
    – Artemisia
    Nov 10, 2013 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ Would you want a list of mathematically rigorous or nice pictures? Some are super rigorous with maybe 10-20 pages of glossy full page pictures embedded at the very middle of the book. $\endgroup$
    – astromax
    Nov 10, 2013 at 13:45
  • $\begingroup$ Haha! Alright :) Let me see the list and try to get hold of those books :) $\endgroup$
    – Artemisia
    Nov 10, 2013 at 13:49

2 Answers 2


The following books are ones I've found useful over the years. I should note that many of these books I've used for my classes, and so they contain various levels of mathematics (proofs, etc..). I'll try to give a rating (1=not super rigorous, 2=fairly rigorous, and 3=most rigorous) as to how rigorous they are mathematically speaking.

For Astrophysics:

1) Astrophysics in a Nutshell -> 2, but not too many pictures

2) An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics -> 2, has some pictures intermingled, but not what you're describing.

For Cosmology:

1) Introduction to Cosmology -> 2, has some good pictures in it, but interspersed.

2) Principles of Physical Cosmology -> 3, not too many.

3) Cosmological Physics -> 3, not too many.

For Observational Astronomy:

1) An Introduction to Astronomical Photometry Using CCDs -> 1 (This is a free pdf, actually), not really great in the way of pictures (they're largely hand drawn or scanned in).

2) Observational Astronomy -> 2, some pictures, but not many are full page, and not in color.

For Galactic Dynamics:

1) Galactic Dynamics -> 2/3, this is the one which has a nice little full page picture section. The only problem is that it's a bit advanced and is really only about galactic astrophysics, not really about much else in astronomy/astrophysics.

Books that have amazing full page photos of astrophysical objects are:

1) Far Out, by Michael Benson

2) Space Places by Roger Ressmeyer

3) Hubble - National Geographic

I apologize that this does not really answer the question. I'm unaware of a book that has both mathematical rigor and full page, high quality images of the things it talks about. I think it would be an amazing idea to come up with one though!

  • $\begingroup$ Oh my word haha that's a lot of books. Let me get hold of a few of them. Yes it definitely would be amazing :D It need not be so rigorous and it would certainly be a good textbook for courses as well! Thank you for your help :) Can we pitch this idea to someone who writes such books? Or you yourself? $\endgroup$
    – Artemisia
    Nov 10, 2013 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ Personally, I'm not really in a position to write my own textbook (yet). It could certainly be pitched to a publisher. The critical part is to find an author willing to write it. Email some people you think might be interested, or maybe you can be pointed to the right person. Also, though I don't know of any offhand, I'm not certain that something like this hasn't already been done. $\endgroup$
    – astromax
    Nov 10, 2013 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ I highly doubt it. If there was a book of the sort, I am sure it would be a prescribed text or something rather famous. $\endgroup$
    – Artemisia
    Nov 10, 2013 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ I found this video today and I felt like you might like it :) youtube.com/watch?v=B2RgJD6CKt4 $\endgroup$
    – Artemisia
    Nov 27, 2013 at 8:53

This is not meant to be a serious answer, so please don't take it like that, but the original question and some of the comments under it reminded me of Andy Friedman's Physics/Math/Astronomy Cheat Sheets, for example (more in the link):

     Astronomy 150
         "Astronomy 150" Cheat Sheet #1 for Radiative Processes in Astrophysics (© CC w/ Attribution Dr. Andrew C. Friedman)

I can certainly enjoy the subtleties of observations with these cheat sheets, and they make for a nice picture too, don't you think? :D

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    $\begingroup$ Hahaha wow! I want to print this and attach it on my door... not like my picture on disturbance of quantum states hasn't kept enough people away ;). It's definitely an awesome picture :) $\endgroup$
    – Artemisia
    Nov 18, 2013 at 8:01

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