This layman-oriented synopsis of Everything out there--planets, sun, moon, nearby stars, our galaxy, other galaxies, all the way to the limits of the universe--makes use of the latest space-probe findings as well as earth-bound observations of pulsars, global clusters, and similar exotica. The author uses the device of you-are-there space travel, landing you on the moon or Mars where you look back at Earth and find, for example, that in peering down on Rome, lo and behold! there is no Victor Emmanual Monument. Well, this is because at that particular juncture in space you are seeing Earth by the light of 2,000 years ago, so it is the Colosseum in full swing you observe. Neat. There are some literally colorful descriptions, too, as Maffei puts you on a mythical planet, in orbit around a double star, where a yellow sun rises and falls followed by an orange one. These technicolor touches in no way diminish the considerably scholarly depth of the book--on all counts a useful one-volume reference for the family or student library.