The volume is divided into three sections. The first, called "Introduction," presents an overview of basic concepts, organized under the broad topics "What Is the Universe?" "The Beginning and End of the Universe," "The View from Earth," and "Exploring Space." The next section, "Guide to the Universe," focuses on the features of the solar system, the Milky Way, and the regions beyond. Among the topics that are covered here are the planets; asteroids, comets, and meteors; the stars; and galaxy clusters. Treatment is quite detailed; for example, more than 15 pages are devoted to Mars. Finally, the book has a section called "The Night Sky," with entries on each of the 88 constellations, including maps. Seventy pages of sky guides, which provide both background information and double-page monthly sky guides for both the northern and southern latitudes for 2005-2012, should prove highly useful to sky gazers. Throughout the text, sidebars offer brief profiles of astronomers and others, highlight discoveries and investigations, or describe space-related stories and myths. An eight-page glossary offers succinct definitions of key terms. A well-constructed index provides subject access to the contents.
Stunning color photographs and illustrations, abundant on every page, supplement the text. Images from space probes and telescopes are interspersed with digital artworks. The illustrations alone make this volume well worth the modest cost. The four-volume Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics (Institute of Physics, 2001), written for an academic and professional audience, is a far more comprehensive (and therefore more expensive) set and is particularly suited for academic and special libraries. Universe, written for a general audience, is highly recommended for high-school, academic, and public libraries. Nancy Cannon
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