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The Moon: A Resource Guide

by Andrew Fraknoi
(Foothill College & Astronomical Society of the Pacific)
Version 4.0; August 2009
© Copyright 2009 by Andrew Fraknoi. All rights reserved.

This guide — for educators, amateur astronomers, and everyone who would like to know more about the Earth’s only natural satellite — covers our scientific understanding of the Moon as a world, the appearance of the Moon in our skies, and tips for observing the Moon through binoculars or small telescopes. We also cover the Moon in popular culture and historical events, but only briefly. The listings are by no means complete, but suggest some of the more useful resources that may be useful for beginners.

Table of Contents:

A. Selected Web Sites

1. The Science of the Moon
2. Missions to the Moon
3. Observing the Moon with Binoculars and Telescopes
4. Finding the Phase of the Moon (and More)
5. Some Educational Activities for Learning about the Moon
6. Webcasts about the Moon
7. The Moon in Popular Culture

B. Books

1. Books about Our Scientific Understanding of the Moon
2. Books about Observing the Moon
3. Books about the Moon and Popular Culture (including Mythology)
4. Miscellaneous Books about the Moon
5. Children’s Books about the Moon

C. Articles

1. Lunar Science
2. Lunar Exploration
3. Observing the Moon for Yourself
4. Articles about the Future Exploration of the Moon
5. Articles about the Moon and Historical Events


1. The Science of the Moon

Encyclopedia Entry on Moon by Paul Spudis at NASA (nice background summary)

Nine Planets Site Introduction

Views of the Solar System Site Introduction

Discussion of Ice on the Moon (before the LCROSS Mission plans)

The Origin of the Moon (by William Hartmann, who, with a colleague, first suggested the giant impact hypothesis for how the Moon formed, in 1975)

The Lunar Science Institute (NASA’s new organization to encourage scientific study of the Moon; their web site has a place where public questions are answered)

2. Missions to the Moon

List of Moon Missions (NASA)

Annotated Missions List from the Moon Society

Mission Lists and Links from the Lunar and Planetary Institute

LCROSS Mission Site
See the special page for educational resources

Article on the mission from Popular Mechanics magazine

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission Site

Apollo Lunar Surface Journal (comprehensive site about the landings)

PBS To the Moon Site (on the Apollo landings)

We Choose the Moon Site (a recreation of the Apollo 11 mission)

Clementine Mission Site (first hints of ice on the Moon)

3. Observing the Moon with Binoculars and Telescopes

Sky & Telescope Magazine’s Moon Observing Articles

Inconstant Moon (Kevin Clarke’s rich site full of moon information, observing guides, an atlas, phase calendar, moon music, and much more)

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Moon (Akanna Peck’s site shows what’s visible on the Moon and lets you search by feature names; for serious observers)

The Consolidated Atlas of Best Lunar Images (from the Lunar and Planetary Institute)

4. Finding the Phase of the Moon (and More)

Paul Carlisle’s Moon Calendar (displays the phase of the Moon for any date from 3999BC to 3999 AD)

Akkana Peck’s Moon Phase Applet

StarDate Online Moon Calendar

Moonrise and Moonset Calculator

5. Some Educational Activities for Learning about the Moon

Observing (and Understanding) Lunar Phases (from the Pacific Science Center’s Astro Adventures Program). Click on Favorite Science Activities in the menu at left and then on Observing Lunar Phases. This sequence of superb inquiry-based activities helps people of all ages to understand the changing appearance of the Moon over the course of a month.

Exploring Lunar Phases with a Daytime Moon (from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Astronomy from the Ground Up Program). Uses the Sun and Moon in the sky, plus a Styrofoam ball to help visualize the Moon’s phases.

Crash Landing (from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Family ASTRO Program). Participants imagine survivors of a crash on the Moon and figure out what is most essential for their backpacks to survive.

Does the Moon Rotate (from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific Night Sky Network Program). A brief demonstration using models of why the Moon keeps one face to the Earth.

Impact Craters (a series of activities and resources from the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium’s Exploring Planets series). Students drop things from a height onto a “lunar surface” to simulate the making of craters.

Exploring the Moon (a 158-page teacher guide with activities from NASA). Put together by the planetary science group at the University of Hawaii in 1997, this guide has a wide range of activities on lunar science and exploration for middle and high school level.

A visual demo of the phases of the Moon (from the Project ASTRO Site at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories)

Relevant Issues of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s newsletter for teachers, The Universe in the Clasroom:

The Lunar and Planetary Institute’s Site “Connect to the Moon” offers a wide range of other resources for educators (with the proviso that almost everything on the site is NASA based).

6. Webcasts about the Moon

Dr. Anthony Colaprete (NASA Ames Research Center) discusses “Prospecting for Water on the Moon: The Upcoming LCROSS Mission” (January 21, 2009, Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures

Moon Myths and Moon Misconceptions: Phil Plait (author of Bad Astronomy), planetary astronomers Paul Spudis, and others separate moon fact from fiction in this humorous hour (July 6, 2009, SETI Institute Are We Alone show)

Short NASA video on the LCROSS Mission

Brief Interview with Brian Day, Education Lead for the LCROSS Mission (see Episode 3)

7. The Moon in Popular Culture

Science Fiction about the Moon

The Moon in Art and Literature

The Moon in Pop Songs

The Moon in Music (part of an astronomical music list)

table of contents


1. Books about Our Scientific Understanding of the Moon

Chaikin, Andrew A Man on the Moon. 1994, Viking Press. A well-reviewed history of manned lunar exploration and what it taught us.

Harland, David Exploring the Moon: The Apollo Expeditions. 1999, Praxis/Springer-Verlag. Reviews the work of the astronauts on the Moon in the context of what we now know about lunar geology.

Hockey, Thomas The Book of the Moon. 1986, Prentice Hall. A basic primer on many aspects of the Moon; out of print, but used copies can be found on line.

Kustenmacher, Werner The Moon: A Guide for First-time Visitors. 1999, Formmer’s. Not entirely serious, this is a tourist guide book to the Moon, written as if travel there were already common place. Interesting combination of fact and whimsy.

Moore, Patrick Patrick Moore on the Moon. 2001, Cassell/Stirling. An updated edition of a classic book on the history of our understanding of the Moon, with observing hints and maps.

Spudis, Paul The Once and Future Moon. 1998, Smithsonian Inst. Press. A geologist discusses what our exploration of the Moon has taught us, and what we might do in the future to know and use the Moon better.

2. Books about Observing the Moon

Kitt, Michael The Moon: An Observing Guide for Backyard Telescopes. 1992, Kalmbach. Eighty-page illustrated primer for beginners.

Massey, Steve Exploring the Moon. 2006, New Holland. An observing guide from an Australian perspective, with good hints about techniques and equipment.

North, Gerald Observing the Moon: The Modern Astronomer’s Guide. 2000, Cambridge U. Press. Very detailed observing guide for serious moon watchers.

Rukl, Antonin Atlas of the Moon. 1993, Kalmbach. Reference book which includes 76 carefully drawn maps of the Moon, plus an overview of what we know about our satellite and its motions.

Wlasuk, Peter Observing the Moon. 2000, Springer-Verlag. Guide to observing and the geology you can see.

Wood, Charles The Modern Moon: A Personal View. 2004, Sky Publishing. A thorough introduction to observing the Moon, by Sky & Telescope‘s moon columnist and a planetary geologist.

3. Books about the Moon and Popular Culture (including Mythology)

Jablow, A. & Withers, C. The Man in the Moon: Sky Tales from Many Lands. 1969, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.

Krupp, E.C. Beyond the Blue Horizon: Myths and Legends of the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets. 1991, HarperCollins. Superb collection of astronomical tales from many cultures. Best book to start with.

Montgomery, Scott The Moon and the Western Imagination. 1999, U. of Arizona Press. A history of how we came to know the Moon, and the responses in literature, art, and philosophy.

Moroney, Lynn Moontellers: Myths of the Moon from Around the World. 1995, Rising Moon. Children’s book of moon legends, with background information.

Phillips, R., ed. Moonstruck: An Anthology of Lunar Poetry. 1974, Vanguard.

4. Miscellaneous Books about the Moon

Cocks, Elijah & Josiah Who’s Who on the Moon: A Biographical Dictionary of Lunar Nomenclature. 1995, Tudor.

Sheehan, William & Dobbins, Thomas Epic Moon: A History of Lunar Exploration in the Age of the Telescope. 2001, Willmann-Bell. How observers mapped the Moon over time.

Wright, Hamilton, et al. To the Moon: A Distillation of Great Writings from Ancient Legend to Space Exploration. 1968, Meredith Press.

5. Children’s Books about the Moon

Asimov, Isaac & Walz-Chojnacki, Greg The Moon. 1994, Gareth Stevens. Part of the Asimov library of astronomy for children.

Bourgeois, Paulette The Moon. 1995, Kids Can Press, Toronto. Includes both cultural and scientific view of the Moon.

Bredeson, Carmen The Moon. 1998, Franklin Watt/Grolier. For younger kids.

Cole, Michael The Moon: Earth’s Companion in Space. 2001, Enslow.

Davis, Don & Hughes, David The Moon. 1989, Facts on File. Part of the Planetary Exploration series for middle-school students.

Heller, Janet How the Moon Regained Her Shape. 2007, Sylvan Dell. Uses a native American folk myth to teach about the moon’s phases and encourage children’s self-esteem. Has an end section of science ideas.

Hitt, Robert The Moon. 1998, Grolier/Michael Friedman. 64-page introduction to moon motions and exploration.

Krupp, E. C. The Moon and You. 1993, Macmillan. Beautifully illustrated primer for younger children by a noted astronomy educator.

Rosen, Sidney Where Does the Moon Go? 1992, Carolrhoda Books. Primer for younger kids by an astronomer.

Stott, Carol Moon Landing: The Race for the Moon. 1999, DK Books. Lavishly illustrated kids’ encyclopedia.

Vogt, Gregory Apollo Moonwalks: The Amazing Lunar Missions. 2000, Enslow. Nice review by a NASA educator.

table of contents


1. Lunar Science

Bakich, Michael “Asia’s New Assault on the Moon” in Astronomy, Aug. 2009, p. 50. On the Japanese Selene and Chinese Chang’e-1 missions.

Comins, N. “What If: The Earth Without a Moon” in Astronomy, Feb. 1991, p. 49. Interesting scientific speculation of how the absence of the Moon would have affected the Earth.

Foing, Bernard “What Europe’s Moon Mission Revealed” in Astronomy, Aug. 2009, p. 44. On the SMART-1 Mission 2003 – 2006.

Foust, J. “NASA’s New Moon” in Sky & Telescope, Sep. 1998, p. 48. On results from the Lunar Prospector mission.

Jayawardhana, R. “Deconstructing the Moon” in Astronomy, Sep. 1998, p. 40. An update on the giant impact hypothesis for forming the Moon.

Oberg, James “The Biggest Hole in the Moon” in Astronomy, Nov. 2005, p. 50. About the Aitken Basin at the Moon’s South Pole and what we can learn from it.

Redfern, Greg “Lunar Fireworks” in Sky & Telescope, June 2009, p. 20. A preview of the LRO and LCROSS missions.

Register, B. “The Fate of the Moon Rocks” in Astronomy, Dec. 1985, p. 15. What was done with the rocks the astronauts brought back from the Moon.

Spudis, P. “The Giant Holes of the Moon” in Astronomy, May 1996, p. 50. On the results of the Clementine mission.

Talcott, Richard “Earth’s Troubled Adolescence” in Astronomy, May 2008, p. 32. The early history of our planet, including the giant impact that most likely formed the Moon.

Wood, Charles “The Moon’s Far Side: Nearly a New World” in Sky & Telescope, Jan. 2007, p. 48. Compares what we know about the two sides and why they are different.

2. Lunar Exploration

Bell, Trudy “Warning Dust Ahead” in Astronomy, Mar. 2006, p. 46. How moondust affected the astronauts and how NASA is planning to deal with it in the future.

Hurt, H. “I’m at the Foot of the Ladder” in Astronomy, July 1989, p. 22. A review of the Apollo missions to the Moon.

Oberg, James “How We’ll Return to the Moon” in Astronomy, Aug. 2009, p. 24. On what technology we need to return humans to the Moon.

Schmitt, H. “Exploring Taurus–Littrow: Apollo 17″ in National Geographic, Sep. 1973. First-person account by the only scientist to walk on the Moon.

Villard, Ray “Taking Science Back to the Moon” in Sky & Telescope, Oct. 2007, p. 24. Discusses a 2006 workshop to imagine the kinds of observatories that could take advantage of being built on the Moon.

3. Observing the Moon for Yourself

Alves, Filipe “Capturing the Colors of the Moon” in Sky &Telescope, July 2005, p. 120. Using digital cameras and software like Photoshop to bring out colors in lunar photos.

Burnham, R. & Therin, G. “The Joys of Moongazing” in Astronomy, Mar. 1991, p. 84. Observing and photography with modest telescopes.

Burnham, R. & Therin, G. “The Joys of Moongazing” in Astronomy, Mar. 1991, p. 84. Observing and photography with modest telescopes.

Friedman, Alan “Good Moons from Bad Locations” in Sky & Telescope, Aug. 2007, p. 84. Hints for producing nice digital lunar images even from urban sites.

MacRobert, Alan & Sinnott, Roger “Young Moon Hunting” in Sky & Telescope, Feb. 2005, p. 75. Hints for finding the Moon as soon after its “new moon” phase as possible.

O’Meara, Stephen “The Moon Shows Her True Colors” in Astronomy, Sep. 2007, p. 18. A column which discusses, among other things, the kinds of shapes you can see in the Moon, including a woman doing her sewing.

Seronik, Gary “Glimpse the Moon’s Far Side” in Sky & Telescope, May 2008, p. 66. Discusses the wobble of the Moon that shows us about 9% of the other side over time.

Wood, Charles “Introducing the Lunar 100″ in Sky & Telescope, Apr. 2004, p. 113. A list of the top 100 features on the Moon for amateur telescope observers, with explanations and guides.

4. Articles about the Future Exploration of the Moon

Burns, J., et al. “Observatories on the Moon” in Scientific American, March 1990, p. 42.

Lowman, P. “Regards from the Moon” in Sky & Telescope, Sep. 1992, p. 259. Good article in the form of a letter from a base on the Moon.

Nichols, R. “From Footprints to Foothold” in Astronomy, July 1989, p. 48. On possible future missions.

Robertson, D “To Boldly Go” in Astronomy, Dec. 1994, p. 34. Speculations about future lunar rovers.

Washburn, M. “The Moon — A Second Time Around” in Sky & Telescope, Mar. 1985, p. 209. Report on a conference on 21st century lunar bases.

5. Articles about the Moon and Historical Events

Cowen, R. “The Tides of War: D-Day’s Lunar Connection” in Science News, June 4, 1994, vol. 145, p. 360.

Olson, D. “Columbus and An Eclipse of the Moon” in Sky & Telescope, Oct. 1992, p. 437.

Olson, D. “Pearl Harbor and the Waning Moon” in Sky & Telescope, Dec. 1991, p. 651.

Olson, D. & Doescher, R. “Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride” in Sky & Telescope, Mar. 1990, p. 437.

Olson, D. & Doescher, R. “D-Day: June 6, 1944″ in Sky & Telescope, June 1994, p. 84. On the tides at Omaha beach.

Olson, D., et al. “Ill Met by Moonlight: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis” in Sky & Telescope, July 2002, p. 30.

Olson, D., et al. “The Moon and the Marathon” in Sky & Telescope, Sep. 2004, p. 34. Using hints about the Moon to recalculate the date of the battle of Marathon.

Rubincam, D. & Rowlands, D. “The Night the Titanic Went Down” in Sky & Telescope, Oct. 1993, p. 79.

Schaefer, B. “Lunar Eclipses That Changed the World” in Sky & Telescope, Dec. 1992, p. 639.

Vialle, J. & Hoff, D. “The Astronomy of Paul Revere’s Ride” in Astronomy, Apr. 1992, p. 13.

table of contents