As an amateur astronomer of 40 years I bought this used book as a backup book for my observatory for our astronomy club members and my family to use. William J. Kaufmann and Neil F. Comins wrote a very good book. Easy to read and lots of great questions for the astronomy student to tackle. William has a good style that reads well, not super advanced technical that would be very good for a senior high school student or freshman college course.Some math and formulas but not too difficult.
Lots of great pictures. The book keeps your interest and makes you want to read more as you learn each topic.I liked the astronomers toolbox where specific astronomy tools and formulas to compute various equations. Also in the back is a great appendix listing data on the planets and their satellites as well as the nearest and visually brightest stars....a great quick reference.
Some of the various topics discussed ( There are more) are Discovering astronomy, Discovering the night sky, Earthly cycles, Eclipses, Gravitation, Origins of the Sun centered universe,Kepler's and Newton's Laws ( done very well and important!),Light and telescopes,Optics and telescopes, Radio Astronomy, Spectra, Atoms,The Solar System,The evolution of stars and their life cycles, galaxies, quasars, The expanding universe vs. the steady state. This is only a partial selection. The authors wrote much more and covered all the important bases. A great read for the average layman without getting too technical. As I said great for a senior high school student or college student taking astronomy 101.
I checked out the supplied free Starry Nights Discovering The Universe Software 5.0 software. It loaded well on my MS Vista laptop. However I was not impressed with it. Not able to get full screen Messier objects, galaxies, clusters and planets all at one time. I know this is the freebie software and you can get the upgrade Starry Night Pro for $59 on line. I like my Sky 6 Bisque planetarium software much better.
The newer edition is probably better with updates and more info on newer found exoplanets. This older edition at low cost is fine as a backup reference book and a book for students to answer both regular and more advanced astronomy questions. Would of given 5 stars but the free software was just so so...maybe 3 stars tops. Together the package 4 stars. Try to get the later edition at low cost. If not able to, this older edition is fine as much of the material is still good and will not change. Maybe more information needed on new exoplanets. A good backup observatory book and study guide. 4 stars and recommended.