by Abigail Hughes
A Book Review of Patrick Moore on the Moon
Patrick Moore on the Moon. Pages 239. Appendix and Photo Collection. London, Cassell & Co., 2001. ISBN 0304354694. Available at observatory.
Being the Earth’s closest neighbor, the Moon has provoked curiosity and wonderment throughout all of human history. In his book, Sir Patrick Moore explores the myth, the facts, the material, and the possible future of the Moon. Moore was a passionate amateur astronomer with no formal education. He wrote his first scientific paper at the age of 13 and continued to contribute to the study of the Moon until his death in 2012.
He starts the book with a fascinating yet brief history of the Moon and the mythologies surrounding its purpose and creation according to different cultures around the world. For those less interested in the mythic and more interested in the scientific, the rest of the book has got you covered. The first half of the book is spent on the observational elements of the moon starting from its location in the solar system, relative to the Sun and the Earth, to its famous craters near and far. The latter half of the book explores the composition of the Moon and the missions sent to gather said information. Fortunately, the book is excellent for those who desire to sit and read about the Moon as well as those who would rather have reference material that is easily accessible. Nearly 35% of the book is reserved to appendixes which, with the exception of 1, are brilliant reference material (the one exception being a list of eclipses of the Moon which expired in 2008). Additionally, the chapter titled “Features of the Moon” works as a standalone chapter for amateur astronomers who wish to start lunar observation.
The precision and detail of the book frequently left me forgetting that Moore wrote the book nearly 20 years ago. Only occasionally am I drawn out the time trance when small details such as Pluto’s status or, relative to the book, the most recent eclipses that have taken place are mentioned. Alongside all the factual information, Moore provides a personal insight to the events and his position in relation to them. Moore writes in a language understandable to any audience with some level of education. The love Moore has for the Moon shines through with his anecdotal writing style and attention to details neglected by other astronomy books. Moore’s optimism and hope toward future Lunar exploration leaves the reader with the dream of more funding being spent toward our celestial partner.
My favourite part of the book, or more accurately Moore’s opinion, is his adamant belief that the Moon and Earth should be a binary planet. Once the reader overcomes the jarring nature of Moore’s stance, it is easy to understand his arguments and not disregard it as nonsense. Don’t believe me? Read the book for yourself.