Astronomy Italian style. Not really. In fact this layman-oriented volume by an Italian expert is a synopsis of Everything out there--planets, sun, moon, nearby stars, our galaxy, other galaxies, all the way to the limits of the universe--with a little cosmogony and cosmology thrown in to round out the picture. In that sense it is a very impressive performance, one which makes use of the latest space-probe findings as welt as earth-bound observations of pulsars, global clusters, and similar exotica. Italian references do appear from time to time. The author uses the device of you-are-there space travel, landing you on the moon or Mars on the journey out. During these landings 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. In that world you see a yellow sun rise and fall followed by an orange one. Greater skyscapes lie ahead--panoramic views of well-known nebulae or the Magellanic Clouds, for example. These technicolor touches in no way diminish the considerable scholarly depth of the book--on all counts a useful one-volume reference for the family or student library.