Introduction to the 1st Canadian Edition of this textbook – and cover photo credits

You are welcomed to the wonderful world of astronomy.   Do look up.   It seems right to start with some stargazing tips from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).


OpenStax has done good work in making open textbooks available. I felt that an edition that also referenced our Canadian astronomers, our more northern skies, as well as the contributions of our First Nations would be useful.

This is very much a work in progress. I welcome your comments and input.



Some more about Jennifer Kirkey

Looking up at the sky as a child, I was fascinated by the stars. The local library supplied a book on the constellations, and that led to a book explaining why the stars were different colours, and that led to a book on physics. I kept asking questions and that led me to a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada and then to a Master’s degree in Physics from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada.

I have been working at Douglas College in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada for more than twenty-five years. I teach a first year course in astronomy to liberal arts majors and physics to people whose background is no physics in high school to those who want to be engineers. I also teach in a post-graduate program for Elementary School Teachers.

I volunteer with our local science centre, Science World at Telus World of Science in Vancouver, B.C., doing outreach visits to elementary and secondary schools, as well as being active with the local branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.   

Woman standing in front of an 8 inch telescope, smiling at the camera.
Jennifer Kirkey and Douglas College’s 8-inch Celestron GoTo scope (Photo credit Jennifer Kirkey 2016 CC-BY) [JenniferKirkeyPhoto]).

Open textbooks became a cause of mine as I found more and more of my students could not afford the “required” textbook. BCcampus organized an Open Textbook Summit in 2015 and the keynote speaker, Rajiv Jhangiani from Kwantlen Polytechnic University was so inspiring that I became a BCcampus Faculty Fellow as an Advocate for Open Textbooks in 2016. I do wish to thank BCcampus for their work with open educational resources such as this textbook, and for the opportunities they have given me. You can learn more about them by visiting .

Being able to modify a textbook so that it better matched our courses was the next logical step. This book is the start of the process.

Student Bulletin Board outside the College Bookstore Photo credit:  Jennifer Kirkey September 2016   (CC-BY license)

Here is a picture I took at the start of the semester in September 2016. This bulletin board is located outside our college’s bookstore. Students who clearly did not need their old textbooks, or who needed the money to buy new ones, put up posters in an attempt to sell their old books. I do hope that you find this textbook useful and worth keeping. Please tell us what worked for you in this book, and what did not. We have the legal ability to change the book and your feedback will help us.


Please note that this book in its original format can be downloaded for free at



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Douglas College Astronomy 1105 Copyright © 2017 by Douglas College Department of Physics and Astronomy, Open Stax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.