How did our universe come to exist? Why do stars shine? Is there life beyond the Earth? For millennia, humans have looked to the celestial sphere to explain the cosmos, first recording the movements of the Moon 25,000 years ago. Since the Enlightenment and the dawn of the space age, scientists have been unravelling cosmic mysteries, and raising astonishing new questions for future generations to answer. Today we live in an age of unprecedented astronomical revelation, from the discovery of water on Mars to the detection of gravitational waves and the first photograph of a black hole. Paul Murdin explains the science behind these discoveries, along with the passions, struggles and quirks of fate that made them some of the most intriguing dramas of their times, demonstrating how human ingenuity and technological innovation have expanded our knowledge of the Universe beyond anything our ancestors – even as recently as a generation ago – could ever have imagined.