The book is intended as a rich introduction to the wonders of the Galaxy. It is intended for anyone interested in the geography, beauty, and significance of our home star-system which is perhaps (along with the human brain itself) the grandest single structure the human mind can comprehend. Though scientifically informed and up-to-date (Dr. Conselice is a leading researcher) the text can be appreciated by the general reader (Dr. Sheehan is an accomplished writer and historian of astronomy and Julian Baum an award-winning illustrator). By taking a historical approach and emphasizing the colorful personalities who pioneered the understanding of the Galaxy, we hope to make what otherwise might be regarded as rather complex subject matter more easily accessible; the illustrations will include maps showing the different levels of galactic structure from the Sun to the whole star-system produced especially for this book by master-illustrator Julian Baum, which will make this book a work of art that can be appreciated in terms of the sheer haunting beauty of its images, like Timothy Ferris's best-selling Galaxies, published in 1980. Rather than presenting a static picture of the Galaxy, the authors present a dynamic picture of the Galaxy as an evolving, almost-living, entity, and the science thereof as a quintessentially human activity involving curiosity, ingenuity, and soaring inspiration. The book will satisfy the need of its readers to see the "Big Picture" in a world overwhelmed with the sheer volume - and fragmentation - of information. Few "Big Pictures" are bigger than that which frames the present subject.