Skip to main content

The Telescopic Tourist's Guide to the Moon - Andrew May ***

Once the potential reader gets over the concern of folding up like a telescopic umbrella, and realises that this book is about doing a tourist trail on the Moon using a telescope, this is a fine title, which deserves more than three stars if you are in the relatively small target market who will make use of a telescope - the three star rating treats it as a general popular science title - as an amateur astronomer's guide it gets five stars.

It's hard to imagine an aspect of science that is so relatively easy to get immersed in when you are young, whether it's simply naked eye stargazing or using basic binoculars, but if you are to take things a little more seriously you need a telescope, and, as Andrew May points out, once you've got one the Moon is the star attraction (pun intended). Of course it's nice to be able to make out more of Jupiter than a dot - but you can explore so much detail on the Moon. When I was about 12, my dad bought a 6 inch reflector, and by far the most fun we had with it was when it was pointed at the Moon.

For those who are telescopically inclined, May takes us through choosing a telescope, photographic options (including the clever way that software can combine multiple frames to make a much clearer image than a single one) and a various tours of aspects of the Moon's surface, from the great craters to sites of Apollo landings.

I ought to stress that there is considerably more to this book - a real bonus - in bringing in lots of details on the nature of the Moon itself, lunar probes and science fiction's attempts to describe visits to the Moon and Moon colonies (there's even a map showing the locations of some of the most famous fictional lunar bases). Although I think the focus on telescopic observation means the book doesn't work as well as pure standalone read about the Moon, those who come for the guidebook will gain a huge amount from the excellent surrounding material.

If I have one practical criticism, I think there could have been a bit more specific guidance on choice of telescope - we're told a lot, but the coverage is quite broad, leaving a beginner perhaps still uncertain which way to go - and the same applies to the best ways to take photographs etc. The problem, of course, with recommending specific bits of kit is that they rapidly go out of date - but it would be nice if you could read that section and come away knowing what's best to go with, or at least how to find what's the current best match for your requirements and pocket.

Overall, though, for anyone beginning to explore the Moon with anything from binoculars to a heavy duty garden telescope, this is a brilliant introduction and guide.

Paperback:  

Kindle:  



Review by Brian Clegg

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Lost in Math - Sabine Hossenfelder *****

One of my favourite illustrations from a science title was in Fred Hoyle's book on his quasi-steady state theory. It shows a large flock of geese all following each other, which he likened to the state of theoretical physics. In the very readable Lost in Math, physicist Sabine Hossenfelder exposes the way that in certain areas of physics, this is all too realistic a picture. (Hossenfelder gives Hoyle's cosmological theory short shrift, incidentally, though, to be fair, it wasn't given anywhere near as many opportunities to be patched up to match observations as the current version of big bang with inflation.)

Lost in Math is a very powerful analysis of what has gone wrong in the way that some aspects of physics are undertaken. Until the twentieth century, scientists made observations and experiments and theoreticians looked for theories which explained them, which could then be tested against further experiments and observations. Now, particularly in particle physics, it…

Gravity! - Pierre Binétruy ****

I had to really restrain myself from adopting the approach taken by The Register in referring to Yahoo! by putting an exclamation mark after every word in the text when faced with reviewing Gravity! One thing to be said about the punctuation, though, is it makes it easier to search for amongst a whole lot of books on gravity and gravitational waves (the subtitle is 'the quest for gravitational waves') since their discovery in 2015.

Despite the subtitle, Pierre Binétruy gives us far more - in fact, gravitational waves don't come into it until page 160, which makes it really more of a book about gravity with a bit on gravitational waves tacked on than a true exploration of the quest. 

However, those early pages aren't wasted - Binétruy gives us plenty of detail on all kinds of background, for example plunging in to tell us about element synthesis, something you wouldn't expect in a book on gravitational waves. I also really liked a little section on experiments you can…

Brain Based Enterprises - Peter Cook ****

A quick flag on this one: it's a management/business book, and the four star rating is with that in mind. Brain Based Enterprises does contain a surprising amount of science, considering this, which is why it's here, but don't expect it to be like a four star pure science book.

This is an eclectic attack on the status quo of our ideas about business. Peter Cook suggest that much of current business simply isn't oriented to the realities of a modern, technological world, and that we need to handle things very differently in a knowledge-based economy.

The book is divided into three sections. For me, the most interesting was the first 'brainy people' part, as my own business doesn't have teams and such - but for those who do there are also 'brainy teams' and 'brainy enterprises' sections. Cook stirs together a heady mix of science - from psychology to economics - music (a passion of his and a significant part of the way he works) and business the…