The Life and Death of Stars

Narrated by: Keivan G. Stassun
Length: 11 hrs and 51 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (97 ratings)

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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
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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

7 people found this helpful

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    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

11 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

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.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Not meant for an Audiobook<br />

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

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • ws
  • 07-06-20

Visual Material Required

Lecturer frequently refers to visual material. Great Courses does not provide access to the material via audiobook. The accompanying pdf is merely a transcript with a light smattering of extremely low quality black and white images - a useless companion to the audio material.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Probably a very good introduction

If you have any knowledge of stars at all, this will probably be a superfluous book. Came expecting some interesting details, left when I realised basic physics was a large part of the content. Also thrown off by the constant anthropomorphization of the stars by the author.

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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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  • 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.


5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-17-19

Suitable for junior high students

I am really disappointed that this is not a university level course. The author heavily relies on biological metaphors to describe this material. I cringe every time i hear that stars are born in ‘wombs’ and telescopes are like the human eye. If this content was condensed into two lectures i might really value this book. Instead i have to meditate and waste hours of ear time seeking the infrequent gems about stellar and planetary science.

1 person found this helpful