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Book Reviews


The Kaguya Lunar Atlas
Authors: Motomaro Shirao and Charles Wood

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 978-1-4419-7284-2

Price: £35.99 (Hb) 174pp


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The Japanese Kaguya mission to the Moon launched in 2007, spending two years observing our nearest neighbour before it was directed to impact the lunar surface. One of Kaguya’s unique features was a HD television camera that provided views of the lunar surface akin to what an astronaut would see.

Thanks to some clever image processing by Motomaro Shirao that turns the HD video footage into wide-field stills, Shirao and co-author Chuck Wood – a lunar expert for the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona – present this pictorial chronicle of Kaguya’s adventures. The images are spectacular. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter may have better resolution, but Kaguya’s panoramic vistas take some beating. My favourites include a tremendous close-up view of Tycho, and hills and ridges on the day/night terminator illuminated by a low Sun. Craters loom out of the landscape like giant amphitheaters and rilles run in criss-cross fashion across plains and bisecting craters, while dark mare stretch for hundreds of kilometres, lapping onto the shores of giant mountain ranges.

The Atlas comprises 100 images of various lunar features, with detailed captions describing what we are seeing and how craters, rilles, pits, domes and mountains formed. And there is still so much that we don’t know, even about little things, such as the intricacies of how some crater floors formed, or how some rilles opened. That the Moon can still be so mysterious pleased me. The earlier chapters also look back towards Earth, showing spectacular Earth rises, the phases of Earth and even the Earth eclipsing the Sun and creating a diamond ring effect.

There are some small irritating points: the odd really bad typo, inconsistencies with image labelling (sometimes it’s not clear what the captions are referring to on the pictures) and I’d have liked to have learnt a bit more about the science Kaguya did in addition to the pretty pictures. Overall, however, and despite the steep price, this is strongly recommended as an excellent coffee-table book depicting the Moon at its majestic best.

Keith Cooper

2009 Yearbook
This 132-page special edition features the ultimate observing guide for 2009, a review of all the biggest news stories of 2008, in depth articles covering all aspects of astronomy and space missions for 2009, previews of International Year of Astronomy events and much, much more.
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Infinity Rising
This special publication features the photography of British astro-imager Nik Szymanek and covers a range of photographic methods from basic to advanced. Beautiful pictures of the night sky can be obtained with a simple camera and tripod before tackling more difficult projects, such as guided astrophotography through the telescope and CCD imaging.
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Exploring Mars
Astronomy Now is pleased to announce the publication of Exploring Mars. The very best images of Mars taken by orbiting spacecraft and NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers fill up the 98 glossy pages of this special edition!
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Mars rover poster
This new poster features some of the best pictures from NASA's amazing Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.
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