A routine sweep through matters astronomical, more suitable (despite the title) for casual browsing than research or quick reference.
In a conventional single-topic-per-spread format, Goldsmith skims the history of astronomy and space exploration, tours the solar system and the universe beyond, then closes with glances at dark matter and other undiscovered territory. The illustrations, most of which are digital images rather than photos, have a staid look in keeping with a text that shares roughly equal space on each page and runs to drably phrased observations. “The outer layer of the Sun is full of activity, with constantly changing sunspots and other features.” Confusing oversimplifications (“The stars change throughout the year”) and some murky photos further mar the presentation. Moreover, frequent references to space films and novels, comments like “The usual fate of travelers who approach a black hole too closely is to be crushed” and views of futuristic spacecraft blur the lines between fact and fiction.
Handsome, at first glance, and up to date enough to include a spread on Global Positioning Systems—but one of the dimmer stars in the topical firmament. (print, Web and film resources) (Nonfiction. 10-12)