Book of the Moon by Maggie Aderin-Pocock
*I did receive a digital version of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review*
Maggie Aderin-Pocock’s new book Book of the Moon, a companion work to the BBC show The Sky at Night, is a rather unique work that combines astronomy and history in a way I’ve never read before. The author is a self avowed “lunatic” and is admits fully to almost always having been obsessed with the moon, which I think is an excellent qualification on writing a book on the topic of the moon. This love of our closest celestial body shows through in most of the pages and makes for an excellent read.
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The book is divided into four sections: Moon 101, Moon Past, Moon Present, and Moon Future. The first section deals with describing what we know about the moon in a clear and concise way. The second section was my favorite as it blended the science of the moon with many historical and cultural references from the past. These included artistic representations of the moon in art and literature as well as historical sites associated with the moon – think of lunar versions of Stonehenge. Also included in this section were artifacts from the distant past that may be have used in association with the moon such as lunar cycle calendars inscribed on bones. The next section, Moon Present, deals with how the moon affects us on a daily basis through the tidal forces, phases of the moon, eclipses (so maybe not so daily), and a brief overview of the moon’s capacity and involvement with the Space Race. The last section, Moon Past, deals with future possibilities of returning to the lunar surface, commercialism in space, and human colonies or bases on the moon along with the accompanying political and ethical dilemmas associated with exploiting the moon for resources.
The author did a terrific job of exploring many different facets of the moon and humankind’s relationship to it. While there was quite a bit of astronomy and science on the moon, it was conveyed in a manner that was easily digestible. These science heavy segments were also beautifully balanced with sections of the book that dealt with history, politics, and culture that directly involved the moon. The commercialization of space, the Space Race, ancient lunar artifacts, and previous astronomers are all topics that find their way into this book and strengthens the book because of it.
Overall this was a tremendous work on our closest celestial body that perfectly blends several avenues of thought into a coherent whole. While being quite informative, Maggie Aderin-Pocock’s Book of the Moon is a delightful and enjoyable read.
4.5 out of 5 stars.