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The Life and Death of Stars  By  cover art

The Life and Death of Stars

By: Keivan G. Stassun,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Keivan G. Stassun
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Publisher's Summary

Long ago, the magnificence of the star-filled sky and its clock-like motions inspired people to invent myths to explain this impressive feature of nature. Now we understand the stars at a much deeper level, not as legendary figures connected with constellations, but as engines of matter, energy, and the raw material of life itself. And thanks to powerful telescopes, our view of the stars is more stunning than ever.

The Life and Death of Stars introduces you to this spectacular story in 24 half-hour lectures that lead you through the essential ideas of astrophysics - the science of stars. Your guide is Professor Stassun, an award-winning teacher and noted astrophysicist. He provides lively, eloquent, and authoritative explanations at a level suitable for science novices as well as for those who already know their way around the starry sky.

The Life and Death of Stars takes you to some otherworldly destinations, including stellar nurseries, planetary nebulae, the core of the sun, and protoplanetary systems. You also become familiar with the periodic table of elements, discovering how fusion reactions inside stars forge successively heavier atoms, producing some in abundance, temporarily skipping others, and creating everything heavier than iron.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2014 The Great Courses (P)2014 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about The Life and Death of Stars

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Stassun keeps referring to visual material

I really like the lecture and have learned a lot (it's not the same old knowledge rehashed like a lot of physics books lately). But one ultra annoying part is, he keeps refering to visual materials, like the horsehead nebulae, which yea I've see pictures of nebulae's before, but never with the intent of looking at indicators that Stassun is refering to, before they were just pretty pictures. It finally reached the "ultra" annoying part when he was showing a computer simulated video of a planet forming, and saying things like "See how it cut's out a tract in the planetary disc" or "Now you can see how Jupiter is just like the Earth." The description of the book says there is a pdf added to my library for the book, which I will find, But I listen in my car so I'll never be able to look at the pdf while driving. just fair warning to anybody wanting to get this book, to check the pdf. Final verdict, absolutely worth the credit

15 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Better to Get Video

The topic is fascinating. The narration is a bit dull, especially the chapter on telescopes. Despite one reviewer, I believe the video portion would make this series much more enjoyable. There were many times when the lecturer referred to a pic of some celestial phenomenon that's impossible to envision. The pdf materials help some. But I can image the simultaneous images aid the explanation.

12 people found this helpful

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I wanted to like it...

The subject matter seemed perfect for me, and the list of lectures was of interest. I made it through the first ten lectures but finally had to stop and return it. I could get past the "Mister Rogers" feel of the speaker and even the excessive anthropomorphization of stars (even when he referred to the gaseous remains of a newly formed star as its leftover placental material). But what finally did it was all the references to screen graphics, animations, and simulations that obviously can't be seen in an audio book. I'm sure the original lectures look great, but this is definitely one that should not have been offered as an audio book.

6 people found this helpful

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Not much science, not much of interest

There are two serious issues with this AUDIO book.
1. As an audio book it fails because it is so dependent on the photos and videos. The narration very often says "this picture here shows X and Y" but does not really describe what the photo shows. The book heavily depends on the assumption the listener can see the visual media. There is a lot of "look at this" as opposed to "this shows X and Y". Without actually seeing the media element of this title, much of it is meaningless. I therefore do not recommend this book for those who need to listen but not watch, such as people who want to listen to something interesting and educational while driving.
2. The book follows a very tiresome metaphor comparing stars to the human lifespan. At first this is fine. Hearing about "baby stars" that form and grow in a "stellar nursery" is not uncommon, and makes a lot of sense in explaining the beginnings of stellar evolution. However this title rapidly descends into pedantic "cutesy" explanations as the metaphor for the development of stars. Actual science and coherent explanations for this process is sacrificed for the hyperbolic overuse of the human development metaphor. At some point this book starts to appear to be written for morons. The author talks about "colicky babies" to try to explain stellar irregularities, and in the process fails to adequately explain the actual science of what is going on with the stars. Similarly with "stellar twins" and "stellar triplets". While such comparisons are often used in very good astronomy documentaries and books, the kitschy hackneyed metaphors here are not well used to explain the real science, but tends to replace it. My patience boiled over when the author started talking about "sibling rivalry" without a very interesting explanation of what was actually going on. I think the author became too smug about the metaphor and lost track of the actual subject matter.

2 people found this helpful

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PDF Not Helpful For Visuals

I somehow thought the PDF would contain the visuals. It doesn't. Well, there is 1 image for the first lecture included in the PDF, but 3 have been referenced already in the first 10 minutes and they are not included.

Waste of a credit. Astronomy sensibly references images. Not made for audio.

2 people found this helpful

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Not meant for an Audiobook

Keeps refering to images or videos you can not see.
Would be great on audiovisual platform.

2 people found this helpful

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Talks down to you

If you have watched plenty of “science” TV, you already are aware of most of these concepts and can move on. Only half a chapter was dedicated to magnetic fields. I was really disappointed that I was not challenged by new and difficult content.

2 people found this helpful

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Great overview of stellar astronomy

Astronomy is abstract at first and the concepts take time to cure in the mind. As an astrophysics student, it's important to see the information from multiple angles. This is a great way to describe some of the more difficult concepts to get started on, like how the uncertainty principle plays into degeneracy pressure. Great for long drives to a lecture on the subject in this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Second go-round

I enjoyed this remarkably lucid course when I first downloaded it about a year ago. A repeat listen was, if anything, better, since I could compare what I recalled with what he actually said. I required a second listen to fully comprehend what is actually very challenging material.

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Informative & Enjoyable Science

The illustrative and storytelling quality of the professor and his speaking voice made this a very enjoyable listen. Many complex concepts were described and explained in an easily understandable manner. Definitely recommend for anyone interested in science!

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  • Heidi lattimer
  • 01-24-19

This is not an audiobook!

Subject is interesting and well explained except that he spends the whole time referring to pictures and videos.
These are not available in the PDF that is attached, there are no links or anything. You would have thought the videos would be on youtube at least.
Its very very frustrating when being told for the nth time to look at some amazing simulation video. Surely when the narrator was reading his lecture series he must have thought to himself, "Hang on a sec, this is an audio book, they wont be able to see anything, maybe I should describe it a bit more instead."

Plus the first four or five chapters are giving a recap in some very basic physics. E.g. How light works and how telescopes work.


8 people found this helpful

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  • Mark B.
  • 10-20-22

Loved every minute

The best of many courses undertaken. Clear, interesting and has introduced me to a subject which i intend to do further reading

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  • Helen the Hemulen
  • 12-31-21

Anthropomorphic astronomy

couldn't get past the "human interest" examples. I don't think it's helpful to recall the birth of a child and compare it to the origin of stars. thought this might improve as the book went on but had to give up. very disappointed