The traditional textbook, bound to the physical limits of the printed page, cannot illustrate the full complexity, movement, and beauty of the cosmos.

In 2012, NASA granted astronomer Lynn Cominsky a multi-year grant with a mandate to develop an interactive experience that could better capture the dynamic nature of the universe.

Dr. Cominsky was joined by like-minded astronomers and practicing educators Kim Coble, Kevin McLin, Anne Metevier, Carolyn Peruta, and Janelle Bailey. This collaboration built the fully digital publication the Big Ideas in Cosmology.

The Story Continues

The development process began with extensive research and vigorous peer review, to ensure the quality of the content and the level of instruction. Field testing was conducted at Sonoma State University to evaluate the effectiveness of the publication’s methods and pedagogy, which revealed high levels of engagement and comprehension for science and non-science majors alike.

Now available through Great River Learning, Big Ideas in Cosmology focuses on basic Introductory Astronomy concepts. The material is presented through interactive exercises, animations, and videos- allowing students of all learning modalities to internalize the content in the method that is easiest and most efficient for them.

Main Topics

  • Review of Mathematics
  • Size and Scope
  • Light
  • Telescopes
  • Moving through Space
  • Moving through Time
  • Measuring Cosmic Distances
  • Classical Physics
  • Dark Matter
  • Special Relativity
  • General Relativity
  • Black Holes
  • Gravitational Lensing
  • The Expansion of the Universe
  • Large Scale Structure
  • The Cosmic Microwave Background
  • The Early Universe
  • Dark Energy and the Fate of the Universe


  • Kim Coble, CSU
  • Kevin McLin, SSU
  • Janelle M. Bailey, Temple
  • Anne J. Metevier, SSU
  • Carolyn C, Peruta, SSU
  • Lynn Cominsky, SSU


  • Chicago State University
  • Guilford College
  • Sonoma State University

Students would just be much more interested in learning about modern science and seeing the actual real data that shows us what we understand about the universe than learning about the phases of the moon and the reasons for seasons and things that have been known since the ancient Greeks. Author Lynn Cominsky

Intro Videos

Lesson concepts and objectives are introduced through short, topical clips at the beginning of the chapter.


Monitor student engagement and content mastery throughout the semester with the gradebook instrument.

Knowledge Check

Bite-sized questions are placed within the text allow students to evaluate their topic expectations and comprehension.

Embedded Animations

Animations are embedded within the narration to illustrate the properties or movements described in the text.

Learning Interactives

Students engage with complex processes, laws, and theories through learning interactives and games.