Astronomy is the oldest and most fundamental of the natural sciences. From the early beginnings of civilization, astronomers have attempted to explain not only what the Universe is and how it works, but also how it started, how it evolved to the present day, and how it will develop in the future. The author, as well-known astronomer himself, describes the evolution of astronomical ideas, briefly discussing most of the instrumental developments. Using numerous figures to elucidate the mechanisms involved, the book starts with the astronomical ideas of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian philosophers, moves on to the Greek period, and then to the golden age of astronomy, i.e. to Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, and ends with modern theories of cosmology.