There are many atlases showing features on the surface of the earth, but this book is the only one (in late 1998, at least) to cover the whole universe. Patrick Moore, who has hosted BBC Radio's popular The Sky at Night program for more than 40 years, gives straightforward, though not simplistic, explanations of astronomical objects of every order of magnitude. He includes charts of every mapped body in the solar system (except Earth), as well as maps and guides to every constellation.
Throughout this encyclopedic work, Moore emphasizes information likely to be useful to amateur astronomers. He provides better coverage of comets and variable stars than do most general works, for instance, because these are areas where amateurs can make important observations. Although he includes a number of gorgeously colored pictures from the Hubble space telescope and other top-flight observatories, Moore retains a focus on what you yourself might be able to see. An excellent single-volume reference, Atlas of the Universe is also a good starting point for your own exploration of the heavens. --Mary Ellen Curtin