I love these OU books, designed for students at home, they are clear, have a good lay out, questions and answers, the lot. Their contents level is rare as well. Most Astronomy books out there are either the simple ones for people who just start looking up for the first time at the night sky, or complicated astrophysics books of a 1000 pages + at prices of over 100 euro's, so this book (and the others in its series) is a gem, as it sits right in between the simple and the rocket science stuff.
I bought this book for personal use in self-study and can recommend it to all interested parties whether non formally trained scientists, undergraduates, graduates with an interest but perhaps working outside the field or like me a graduate working a million miles away from the subject matter of the book.
If you have a background in the physical sciences this book will make an excellent refresher and reference source for summaries, diagrams and overviews of the relevant arguments. If you don't have a background in the physical sciences this book will help you gain an understanding of the main physical processes governing the formation and evolution of the stars (including our own sun) along with the observational techniques used in obtaining real data to test the theoretical predictions. The book is illustrated throughout with beautiful diagrams, photographs and real experimental data and it's fun using the formulae within the book to calculate numbers that you can then see on the experimental graphs and plots.
The book contains summary sections at the end of each chapter and these are excellent, providing not only a reminder of the main points that you've just worked through but a useful "taster" of what's to come before you dive into each chapter. In addition, the book contains many questions in each chapter with answers at the end. These problems are fun to work through and having the answers is a real advantage and a positive asset of the book - there's nothing worse when learning from a book questions being posed but no answers being provided.
On the production of the book, I can't fault it. It's not a massive tomb so I had no problems with the binding splitting - something that can happen with very large paperback text books once opened beyond the first few chapters when the weight of the book splits the binding. I bought my copy from the Amazon warehouse under the description "used" and it was in great condition - no damage and no real signs of wear and tear so very happy with both the quality of the book, the service and the cost savings compared to purchasing new. I would still buy this book even if I had to pay the "brand new" price.
In addition to this book I purchased 2 other books on related topics and have the same comments on them - all 3 books are beautifully illustrated throughout, contain questions with worked solutions and pitch their subject matter at the right level. The books in question are:
An Introduction to Galaxies and Cosmology by Mark H. Jones, Robert J. Lambourne
Relativity, Gravitation and Cosmology by Robert J. A. Lambourne
This Open University text book has been around for a few years now and is one that I still dip into. It is part of their second level astronomy course and covers everything you need to know about stars for the second level. Unusually for an astronomy book the maths content is put across is a very simple and straight forward way that is easy to understand and does not put the reader off. It can be read as a one off by anyone interested in the formation and life cycle of stars, in all their forms. In fact if I was to recommend a book on stars this would be my choice. It is a very good book that is easy on the eye whilst being packed with information - a rare combination in what is really a text book.
I received this textbook and its partner "An Introduction to Galaxies and Cosmology" as part of the UK Open University's excellent distance-learning course (code S282) on astronomy and cosmology. Both books are among the best texbooks of any kind that I have ever encountered. As an all-too-"mature" student trying to study physical science at home, I found these texts fascinating, engaging, very well-designed, with plenty of questions to test/extend my understanding. "ISS" takes you through every stage in a star's life, from the first cloud of molecules condensing in interstellar space to the white dwarf, neutron star or black hole of its ultimate destiny. You will find out how our own star works, how we know how it works, and the astonishing things we have learned about other stars. If you're studying astronomy and don't know this stuff already, I can't think of a better way to learn it. If you're just curious why the stars shine and where the atoms in your body come from, this book will explain it all, from sunspots to supernovae.