8 of the Best Books About the Moon
The moon has always played a central role in human history and culture, unsurprisingly so. The orbit of the moon impacts the tides, and the changing phases of the moon have been used to mark time since the earliest days of human history, providing us with a natural calendar before we had the ability to calculate time ourselves. Scientists and astronomers from various cultures have focused on the moon, calculating its age and trajectory, and positing theories and writing books about the moon and where it might have come from, long before the space race allowed us to reach the surface of the moon itself.
The beauty of the moon has also made it a frequently-referenced figure in legend, literature and song. A huge number of cultures have made the moon a religious focus, developing stories of moon gods or creating legends around this celestial object, such as the Viking myth that Ragnarok will involve wolves devouring the moon and sun. Hundreds of songs include the moon in their lyrics, and poets and novelists often create moon-based metaphors in their work. Our fascination with the moon has continued into the present day, with stargazers often turning their telescopes on its surface, and people returning to the lunar calendar as a way to reconnect with nature. Here are some of the best books about the moon for those interested in all aspects of our nearest neighbour.
The Book of the Moon by Maggie Aderin-Pocock
Dr. Aderin-Pocock, renowned astronomer and presenter of the BBC’s famous show The Sky at Night, has always loved studying the moon. In The Book of the Moon, she introduces readers to many different aspects of moon study, which will appeal to amateur and seasoned sky-watchers alike. The Book of the Moon looks at the history of humanity’s relationship with the moon, the moon’s topography, and the potential future of space exploration.
The Moon: A Celebration of our Celestial Neighbour by Royal Observatory Greenwich and Collins Astronomy
An excellent overview of the moon for people interested in the science and social impact of our orbiting neighbour, The Moon was produced by Royal Observatory Greenwich to mark the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing. It touches on the way that astronomers have observed the moon over the centuries, and the events that led to the first expedition to the moon.
The Moon by Hannah Pang, illustrated by Thomas Hegbrook
A beautifully-illustrated book about our history and cultural relationship with the moon, Hannah Pang’s The Moon is a perfect guide to lunar studies for beginners — although seasoned moon-watchers will also undoubtedly find new information and trivia in its pages. It looks at myth, fiction, and the impact of the moon on our everyday lives, as well as the science behind our history with the moon.
Eight Years to the Moon: The History of the Apollo Missions by Nancy Atkinson
Nearly everyone knows a little of the story of the 1969 Moon Landing, but while the names of the astronauts and the first words spoken on the moon are common knowledge, the long journey to get there is less well-known. Eight Years to the Moon contains stories from many of the background figures, such as the engineers and other scientists who worked on getting the Apollo astronauts safely to their destination.
Hidden Figures: The Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
The Apollo missions took place in the 1960s, during a time of segregation and racial prejudice where the many contributions of Black scientists were overlooked. This was true for Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and Gloria Champine, a group of female African American mathematicians who worked for NASA, and whose calculations allowed the moon missions to go forward. Shetterly’s book uncovers the history of these women, whose contributions to science changed the world.
The Quiet Moon by Kevin Parr
Humanity’s relationship with the moon doesn’t always mean venturing into space — the moon has also had a huge impact on our earthbound lives. In The Quiet Moon, Kevin Parr uses a focus on the moon as a framework for exploring a year of engaging with nature, working from a lunar calendar and drawing on Celtic history.
Beneath the Moon: Fairy Tales, Myths, and Divine Stories from Around the World by Yoshi Yoshitani
The moon has played such an important role in human history and culture that it’s unsurprising it has featured in so many legends and stories from across the world. In Beneath the Moon, Yoshi Yoshitani retells myths from across the globe, including stories about moon gods or tales that focus on the moon.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
Many cultures have a moon goddess, as the moon was so central to historic human life, often providing the most reliable calendar. Daughter of the Moon Goddess draws on the Chinese myth of the moon goddess Chang’e, following her daughter Xingyin as she infiltrates the Celestial Kingdom in order to find her exiled mother.
If looking at the moon has whetted your appetite for all things space-related, try our list of 9 of the Best Books About Astronomy. If you want to learn more about folklore, try 20 Folklore Books From Various United States Cultures.