The Moon: A Biography

This must surely be the most wide-ranging book on Earth’s nearest neighbour ever written. A great book with countless places, characters and subjects explored… Whitehouse writes on all subjects with confidence and clarity…This is by no means a book only for astronomers or even those interested in the sciences. There is much here to interest art historians, readers of pre-20th century literature, psychiatrists and biographers. The Bookseller.

A spellbinding story. Few of us have not been fascinated by the man in the moon - and wondered what his world is like. This book tells it all. Liverpool Echo.

The author’s brimming passion for his subject is obvious…this is an excellent prospect for the many people who enjoyed Dava Sobel’s Longitude and deserves to be widely read.  The Guardian.

The moon has long enraptured the distinguished BBC Science Correspondent David Whitehouse who has enthused us with the first biography of the moon…intriguing…engaging.   The Sunday Telegraph.

It took ten years to create…and another four billion before man visited it. But, as this new book reveals, it took an Elizabethan Englishman to put it all into focus…a fantastic book.  Daily Mail.

David Whitehouse takes on the formidable task of writing the moon’s biography…an informative and highly enjoyable mix of astronomy, history and myth that is a cluttered and as charming as a Victorian museum…such details are a delight, and Whitehouse’s well-researched book is infused with an enthusiasm he says he acquired as a boy, when the Apollo missions kept him spellbound. The Moon shows a familiar friend in a whole new light.  Scotland on Sunday.

A tour-de-force, utterly compelling. Whitehouse is terrific, a magical enthusiast.  Financial Times.

Everyone is talking about ‘The Moon: A Biography.’ A fascinating, offbeat read. Evening Herald.

As illuminating as it is enjoyable, this book surveys both the current state of science and an often bizarre intellectual heritage.  The Scotsman.

This is the best book about the Moon ever written. Every now and then a book arrives as though out of nowhere about a subject which you know next to nothing in which you have previously displayed not one iota of interest and yet, through some magical power, overcomes all the odds to thoroughly captivate you. Well, the Moon is such a book. It may not do for astronomy what Longitude did for geographic science, but it certainly deserves to. David Whitehouse has produced a gem of a book that charts the history of the moon as artistic muse, mythological god and much more besides. A lunar triumph.   Eastern Daily Press.

Excerpt from the Moon: “They are all waiting in the dark. The astronomers we shall meet have been gathered from the scattered centuries and placed on its face. One by one, over the next fourteen days, as the earthward side of the moon is unveiled, the sun will reach them. Its light will reach craters, plains, valleys, mountains and many strange formations. It will come up over broken space probes and six times it will rise over human footprints." Wow. It doesn't get much better that that.  Cloudynights.

I found this little gem of a book in a bookshop at the London-Heathrow Airport. The book is not a lunar observers handbook, but instead it is a survey of what we know about the Moon, from our ancient concepts and cave paintings of it to our modern scientific knowledge of its makeup. BBC science correspondent Dr David Whitehouse is also the science editor for BBC News Online. Whitehouse covers such varying topics as lunar mythology, and the race to the moon, mapping and naming the moon and its features, and lunar influences on Earth, such as the tides and "lunacy." He also covers the controversy of what if there was no Moon and what life might have been like without the gravitational effects of the Moon that have caused a change in our rotational speed and so many other phenomena on our home planet.

I really liked this book and found it a delight to read both on the airplane and on cloudy nights when I could not go out and observe our celestial neighbour. Whitehouse's writing style is friendly and non-technical, yet very informative. This book is packed with background material on the history of the observation of the Moon with some history of the Moon itself included. I highly recommend that you add this lunar book to your astronomical library.  Journal of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers.

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