Top positive review
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Excellent introductory / intermediate guide
on 28 December 2003
I already own a number of works concerning the Moon, so although I believe the easiest way to learn a subject is to read a lot of different books about it, I am careful not to waste money on any that merely duplicate what others have said. I was therefore very pleased to find that even though the "Moon Observer's Guide" is billed as an introductory text, a number of features made it stand out for me.
The central chapter of the book, "Moonwatching" (76 pages of 192 total), is divided into sections of the Moon to be observed on each day of the lunar month i.e. the areas where the sunlight is shining at a low angle allowing the surface features to stand out in virtue of the shadows produced. For each day, the slice of the Moon described is indicated on a small globe. This portion only is then very cleverly shown on a map mixed in with the text on the same pages, avoiding the need to flick to a few pages of maps at the back of the book. The quality of these maps is also extremely good and I find them easy to match up with my own photographs. Many features are described in an interesting and readable way, including a number with unofficial names and some the author finds noteworthy even though they have no name at all. Also helpful are the references to the size of telescope needed to resolve some of the smaller landmarks, and a selection of photographs and drawings made using a range of amateur telescopes and imaging equipment.
Another chapter I particularly enjoyed was "Lunar Geology and the Moon's Features" (26 pages), explaining the nature of craters, plains, mountains, wrinkle ridges, domes, faults, rilles and the origin of the Moon, illustrated with clear diagrams where necessary.
"The Moon in Space" (10 pages) clearly explains the Moon's motion, including variations in the areas observable from Earth, and this is followed by a chapter (18 pages) on equipment such as binoculars, telescopes and eyepieces.
A 14 page chapter "Recording your Observations" covers the use of film cameras, digital cameras, camcorders, webcams and pencil and paper, then "Eclipses and Occultations" (10 pages) are described.
The final chapter, "The Space-Age Moon" (16 pages) provides a good summary of lunar missions, from Luna through Ranger, Surveyor, Orbiter, Apollo, Clementine and Prospector. Some useful information is given on each one, such as where it went and what it achieved.
The book closes with a glossary, a list of high quality Web sites including discussion groups and archives of lunar photographs, a list of books, maps and software, a general index and finally a separate index of features including references to illustrations and maps.
All in all, I would say this is a superb introduction for anyone unfamilar with the Moon, but also worth having as an additional guidebook for those a bit more knowledgable although not yet expert, i.e. the "beginner to intermediate" level. As well as being used for actual observation through a telescope, it also makes an excellent companion for a "virtual tour" through those photo collections available either online, on CD or through software such as the "Virtual Moon Atlas", on those nights when there's either nothing to see directly or you want to look at the space probe close ups.