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Book Reviews


The Moon in Close-up: A Next Generation Astronomer’s Guide

Author: John Wilkinson

Publisher: Springer

ISBN:978-3-642-14804-0

Price: £35.99 (Pb) 310pp


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This book intends to make use of the geological and topographical discoveries by recent space probes in order to better inform the lunar observer. Chapter One is a general introduction to the Moon. I thought that the section on the Moon’s orbit was rather over-simplified and needed beefing up a little, and a diagram would have helped in the part about libration. In discussing water on the Moon, no mention is made that water may be produced in the lunar soil by the action of the solar wind on lunar minerals, when hydrogen ions combine chemically with oxygen atoms in silicates and oxides.

The second chapter is a straightforward summary of robot probes and the Apollo missions. Oddly, no images from any of these probes make it into this chapter; incredibly, only three images from space probes feature in the entire book! Photographs of lunar features are mainly black and white close-ups taken from The Consolidated Lunar Atlas (1967); sadly, no high-resolution CCD views by modern astro-imagers are present, nor are there any lunar observational drawings.

Lunar geology and the history of the Moon is the subject of the third chapter, dealt with in a pretty concise and understandable manner. Occultations and eclipses feature in the following chapter, although there are some errors, such as the erroneous claim that refraction effects on the rising Moon cause it to look larger than when it is higher in the sky. Chapter five deals with observing the Moon, and contains a five-stage guide to the Moon’s main features followed by a brief guide to lunar photography.

Studying the Moon is the subject of the book’s final chapter. In it the author selects 17 ‘study areas’ around the Moon’s nearside and describes the main features in each area with the aid of a labelled photograph. It’s a workmanlike chapter, but I feel that it’s somewhat lacking in instilling inspiration to readers to go out and observe.

On the whole, Wilkinson has done a reasonable job of describing lunar phenomena and features. I was not greatly enamoured with his writing style, which I found tended to be clumsy in places. Moreover, the book is visually less than appealing – I think this matters because lunar imaging and observation relies on the sense of sight.

Peter Grego

 

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