This book is subtitled: "Exploring the Skies and Weather of Other Worlds". Michael Carroll is well known as a space artist (he is a Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists --- IAAA) as well as a prolific writer. However, anyone expecting a book full of imaginative scenes on other worlds may be surprised, as this is very much more than that, being a mine of information, a useful reference book on the composition and atmospheres of other planets. And in fact probably the majority of the pictures are in fact photographic images from NASA and other sources; but they are still useful and valuable complements to the artist's visualisations.
The book is divided into three parts. The first, `Starting Here and Getting There' discusses our own skies and atmosphere, and how weather is created. This also discusses Earth's water cycle, and how humans are changing our environment. Chapter 2, which opens with a very nice Renaissance-style painting of one of Leonardo da Vinci's flying machine over an Italian landscape, goes on to discuss our dreams of flight and how we finally made them reality and went on not just to fly, but to travel to other worlds, and even land on the distant moon of Saturn, Titan. Other chapters are devoted to Venus, Mars (including of course techniques for landing, using rockets, aerobraking, parachutes, airbags, etc.), and the outer planets.
In Part 2 the dynamics of the atmospheres, and also the geology, of Venus, Mars and the outer planets and their satellites are discussed in much more detail, with particular attention to Titan and its `Earthlike' features. Part 3, entitled `Future Explorers', describes plans to explore other worlds via automated probes and rovers, balloons and aircraft, and the eventual exploration by humans (surely overdue, at least for the closer terrestrial worlds!).
Personally I would have preferred to see more large illustrations of Michael's work - perhaps even some double-page spreads. Indeed, some strange choices have been made, I suspect by the publishers rather than the author, though I could of course be wrong. For instance, some of the black-and-white illustrations are very small, and dark, and some illustrations, such as the Martian panoramas on pages 77 and 79 (in colour) really deserve to be reproduced much larger. The painting of `what scientists hoped Galileo would experience' as it entered Jupiter's atmosphere loses a lot by being small and in monochrome. . .
Overall, I recommend this book to all who are interested in planetary astronomy, in the past, present and future of space exploration, and in knowing more about our neighbouring worlds.