Oliver Morton explores how the ways we have looked at the Moon have shaped our perceptions of the Earth: from the controversies of early astronomers such as van Eyck and Galileo, to the Cold War space race, to the potential use of the Moon as a stepping stone for further space exploration. Advanced technologies, new ambitions, and old dreams mean that men, women, and robots now seem certain to return to the Moon.
This book...is testimony to the dangerous effects of staring at the moon ... This book is a moon primer, loaded with technical detail that is kindly processed for the layman. The moon, we learn, is dark like tarmac, with only slight variations on shades of grey. It reflects only 12 per cent of the sunlight that hits it, yet that’s enough to produce its enthralling luminosity. It smells like wet ashes ... The moon is an empty vessel into which we pour our hopes, dreams, ambitions and animosities ... I have read almost everything written about the lunar missions, yet I have never encountered a book that captures so perfectly and so lyrically the ridiculous power that the moon holds over human sensibility. This is a beautiful book about Luna — a 'Moon of many stories, Moon as might be and Moon as always was, Moon longed for and Moon happened upon'. It exposes the magnificent desolation of the lunar quest, yet still captures the beguiling hold that the moon has over all of us. Well, most of us. Not me.
...brilliant and compelling. Morton is a high-octane British science journalist, and every chapter is littered with material that strikes, amazes or haunts ... Only one chapter is explicitly about the Apollo missions, but it is superb. And original ... It should be clear that this is an unusually thoughtful and well-written science book. It is almost lyrical, even if Morton does call the tech billionaire Musk a 'prick' at one priceless and entirely accurate moment ... this is a book filled not just with a lifetime’s knowledge of its subject but with a lifetime’s suppressed excitement. Only four of the people who have walked on the moon are still alive, Morton reminds us. They will be 'heavily outnumbered', he predicts, by those who will soon follow.
Morton blends a profound grasp of astrophysical technicalities with a gift for precise, often poetic prose. He has equally rich insight into the philosophical implications of outer space upon human lives and in The Moon he has left no stone unturned in drawing out its psychological significances ... Morton is very good at the basic Newtonian physics associated with moon motion ... Morton does a great job of recovering the excitement – and, for their time, astonishing technical accomplishments – of the various Apollo missions.