This book is a brief description of astronomy. The topic is vast, and covering it in 80 pages is impossible. The first four chapters examine the history of astronomical thought up through Newton and gravitation quite completely. Chapter 5 then skips to the Milky Way, with little discussion of the solar system. The information is up to date, but little is said about the sun and the moon, and nothing at all about the planets. (Retrograde motion is mentioned in an earlier chapter.) The last three chapters describe galaxies briefly and also are up to date. A general view of the universe and theories about it ends the text.
The book is useful for brief and accurate coverage of historical astronomy up to Isaac Newton and William Herschel and for information about galaxies. Other topics must be studied elsewhere. On page 42, the word "asterism" is used to describe the Big Dipper. This word is defined neither in the glossary nor in the chapter in which it appears. Such obscure words should be explained more accurately. (For example, how does an asterism differ from a constellation?) For the two areas covered, this book is a good source of information. An index and a glossary are helpful aids in the use of the material that is presented. (from The Story of Science Series.) Highly Recommended, Grades 5-8. REVIEWER: Robert E. Berges (Sierra Club)