The Sky at Night Book of the Moon

Sky at Night Magazine - - OCTOBER / BOOK REVIEWS -

Mag­gie Aderin-Po­cock BBC Books £9.99 HB

Are you a ‘lu­natic’? The Sky at Night co-host Dr Mag­gie Aderin-Po­cock ad­mits to be­ing one since early child­hood and her new book prom­ises to “bring out the in­ner lu­natic that lies within all of us”.

Next year is the 50th an­niver­sary of hu­mankind’s first steps on the lu­nar sur­face. This book pro­vides a timely and de­light­ful jour­ney into the Moon’s won­ders, plus a look at its phys­i­cal, ge­o­log­i­cal and cul­tural im­pact on Earth, and how the fu­ture of Earth and its satel­lite are tied to­gether.

Aderin-Po­cock has im­bued the prose with her ob­vi­ous pas­sion and warmth for Earth’s near­est neigh­bour. While the book is packed with facts and sci­ence, it is her per­sonal sto­ries that punc­tu­ate the nar­ra­tive and con­vey an in­fec­tious en­thu­si­asm.

She looks at the Moon from all an­gles, from its place in our pre­his­tory (one of the old­est known lu­nar cal­en­dars is a 50km se­ries of 12 pits in Scot­land dat­ing back to 10,000BC) to its role in art and poetry.

Hav­ing sold us the Moon, she then deals with the prac­ti­cal: how to ob­serve the Moon with the naked eye and with equip­ment. This sec­tion is ac­ces­si­ble and easy for begin­ners, com­plete with ba­sic lu­nar maps.

But, as she highlights, our fu­ture with the Moon is yet un­clear. Will we one day live in lu­nar bases? Or is Mars more in favour? And, as the last as­tro­naut to walk on the Moon in 1972, the late Gene Cer­nan, once asked: “When are we go­ing back?”

SHAONI BHAT­TACHARYA is a sci­ence writer and jour­nal­ist

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