Earth's aura is like a cellular membrane but even more sensitive, more complex. It is arranged in many layers whose boundaries can actually be seen as a spaceship rises through the atmosphere."" Such clear precise writing is characteristic of Louise Young's rich and vivid account of the many heavens above. In the midst of the current spate of books about cosmology and cosmogony-- How It All Began and How It All Will End--it is nice to have a near-in view of the Here and Now. More than that, this is a first-rate account--complete with legends, experiments, and documentary narrative--of how knowledge has been acquired about the winds and weather, about the troposphere and stratosphere and the other divisions that halo the earth. Louise Young has a gift for the detailed description or the wondrous fact that leads into fascinating chapters on clouds, snow, jet streams, ice ages. She includes the letters of Pascal and Benjamin Franklin--and an absolutely hair-raising account of a pair of intrepid Englishmen who ascended some 35,000 feet in a balloon and managed to survive though fingers froze, eyes were blinded, and minds numbed by the combination of temperature decline and oxygen shortage. She proceeds from the conjectures of Torricelli and Galileo and the investigations of Priestley down to the views of contemporary astronauts--""views"" from space. This is science writing at its best, conveying the wonder and excitement along with the story and the knowledge.