This book is based on the authors' long standing experience in teaching astronomy courses. It presents in a modern and complete way our present picture of the physics of the Milky Way system. The first part of the book deals with topics of more empirical character, such as the positions and motions of stars, the structure and kinetics of the stellar systems and interstellar phenomena. The more advanced second part is devoted to the interpretation of observational results, i.e. to the physics of interstellar gas and dust, to stellar dynamics, to the theory of spiral structures and the dynamics of interstellar gas. Tailored for students and lecturers in related courses in astronomy, the book should be equally interesting for researchers working in other fields of physics and astronomy and, in particular, for the educated amateur astronomer.
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