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Moons - a very short introduction

xvhmThis small, densely packed paperback is a fantastic starting point for those interested in learning more about the 190 or so moons found within our solar system. Not merely a book of tables and facts about these celestial bodies, Moons covers the rich history of exploration and discovery along with the ideas that were shaped and moulded by astronomers across the ages.

From the discovery of Jupiter’s moons by Galileo to the moons of smaller bodies being discovered today, the text is interspersed with some excellent figures and simple tables that help to demonstrate the points being made, to illustrate some of the more complex ideas such as tides, and of course to allow us to see these alien worlds.

There is a large amount of information on the Earth’s Moon which is to be expected as it is the most intensely studied and our closest neighbour. Of particular interest are the structure and composition of The Moon, craters, and its origins; a topic that is still being hotly debated amongst scientists today.

The most wonderful aspect of this book is how Rothery has pre-empted almost every question that you could possibly think of (and answered them), giving the text a really natural flow from point to point. He is quick to dispel myths such as 'Super Moons' and the Moon’s effect on human behaviour; but discusses in depth the effects it has on tides and marine life.

Aside from our Moon, the regular satellites of the giant planets are given a very thorough discussion from the tantalising prospect of life on worlds such as Europa to unexpected active volcanoes on Io. Covering the various missions by space probes to visit these worlds, Rothery gives an excellent overview of these mysterious places and the physical processes that govern them. He also sprinkles plenty of tantalising hypotheses about potential life as well as future missions of interest such as ‘chipsats’ on Europa and submersibles on Titan.

The other running theme in this book is the attention to detail given with respect to nomenclature of moons, asteroids and other bodies. This is something I have rarely seen done in other books and it is done well here.

Finally the book has an excellent further reading list, as well as an online resources section which contains animations, online courses and video lectures for you to explore.

Reviewed by Jonathan Scafidi

MOONS: A VERY SHORT INTRODUCTION by DAVID A ROTHERY, 2015. Published by: Oxford University Press 176pp (pbk) ISBN: 9780198735274 List Price: £7.99. W: