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The Moon: A celebration of our celestial neighbour Hardcover – Import, 27 June 2019
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Marking the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s ‘small step’ this beautiful book from Royal Museums Greenwich explores people’s fascination with our only natural satellite. Immerse yourself in contemporary essays and fascinating images wrapped in a sleek design.
Edited by the museum’s curators, Melanie Vandenbrouck, Megan Barford, Louise Devoy and Richard Dunn, this book illuminates how art and science meet in our profound connection with the Moon. It features authors from a variety of disciplines, including cultural historians, curators, a scientist, a poet and a space law expert among others.
Divided into four sections, the first, A Constant Companion, explores why we started to observe the Moon. Through the Lens reveals advancements in technology for observing details not visible with a naked eye. 50 years after man set foot on the moon, Destination Moon explores how the moon was represented before humankind’s first landing. The final section For All Mankind? reflects on how our relationship with our closest cosmic companion continues to evolve.
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A celebration of our celestial neighbour
About the Author
The Royal Observatory, Greenwich is the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the World, making it the official starting point for each new day and year. It is also home to London's only planetarium, the Harrison timekeepers and the UK's largest refracting telescope. It runs the annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.
- Publisher : Collins (27 June 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0008282463
- ISBN-13 : 978-0008282462
- Reading age : 13 years and up
- Item Weight : 970 g
- Dimensions : 19.69 x 2.29 x 25.4 cm
- Country of Origin : United Kingdom
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
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Published as an accompaniment to the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s exhibition, and “marking the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s ‘small step’”, there is, surprisingly, virtually nothing about the moon landings in this book, and little real science (apart from one essay on selenology). What we do get is a series of essays by a large number of contributors, profusely illustrated, and divided into four overarching sections, though there is a fair bit of overlap in theme and content across essays and sections. Overall it’s mostly art and culture.
The first section considers the moon in ancient and pre-modern history – its use for timekeeping and navigation, and its appearance in mythology and art, the latter sometimes being quite tenuous. In particular in the chapter on African art it’s impossible to see how the pieces depicted are linked to the moon, and the author of the piece even admits that “specialist cultural knowledge” is required to interpret them, which makes you wonder why it’s here then except as an exercise in box-ticking.
The second part moves on to observation of the moon; with the advent of the scientific revolution and the invention of the telescope, it could be examined in more detail, and the arrival of photography further benefited science.
Thirdly we are invited to learn about imagined journeys to the moon from Lucian of Samosata in antiquity through to the science fiction films of the sixties and the mania for “space” fashions and toys in that era.
The final section, entitled “For all mankind?” is where it starts to lose it a bit in my opinion. After a decent piece on selenology (as remarked above, the only real ‘scientific’ part of the whole book), we are back to art once again and cinema, poetry and other visual arts, and politics. The US planting a flag on the moon is decried as “nationalist”, the US was “imperialist” and the fact that all the 12 astronauts were white men is of course criticised (by this time I’m thinking that this must all have been written by Polly Toynbee or Owen Jones). So for “balance” we get art, whose link to the moon is in some case tenuous, by ethnic minorities, such as a video by a Palestinian woman artist imagining herself as an astronaut planting a Palestinian flag on the moon (which, curiously, unlike the planting of the American flag, is not denounced here as “nationalist”).
Daft errors have crept in. The year 46BC had 445 days, not 478 as claimed here. The First Council of Nicaea only decreed that the data of Easter should be universally applied and should not follow the Jewish calendar and made no stipulation whatsoever about how it should be calculated, in contrast to the assertion made here. The red moon phenomenon during an eclipse is described as being due to “reflection” of light from the earth’s atmosphere (actually refraction through it); this one in particular seems unforgiveable from a publication by the ROG. The telescope was hardly “the first instrument to extend the senses” as magnifying glasses and spectacles had been around for a long time before that. The potential for spaceflight co-operation between the US and the USSR was somewhat different to what is stated, as in fact the possibility seemed to remain alive until Kennedy was assassinated. A Chinese figurine is described as a “netsuke” (which is Japanese). There is a reference to “Mittel-Europe” (sic).
Overall I am, to say the least, considerably surprised that this is a book released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11; it’s really not what I would have expected from the ROG. You won’t exactly find much in here to commemorate that momentous event, nor will you learn much science. However if you are more interested in the cultural significance of the moon, in mythology, in art, in literature, in cinema, in music, in fashion and so on, this will be more your thing.