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The Usborne Book of Astronomy & Space

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Gr 3-4-This terse but unusually broad survey of the extraterrestrial universe and our exploration of it combines basic background information with practical advice for stargazers and sky photographers. After briefly explaining just what the physical universe is comprised of, the authors tell of the planets and other components of the solar system, followed by a page of thumbnail biographies of eminent astronomers. They move on to discuss stellar types and life cycles; linger over 88 constellations visible from either hemisphere; suggest tips for using binoculars, telescopes, and cameras most effectively; and then recapitulate some of the previous information through charts. The color illustrations are artists' renderings and photographs. Without giving the pages a busy look, the designers have done a good job of staving off visual monotony by changing background colors, type sizes, and picture shapes from one topical spread to the next. A string of copyright dates hints that not all the material here is new, but it is clearly presented and current enough to include last year's Pathfinder mission to Mars.-John Peters, New York Public Library

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