Thursday, July 24, 2014

July: The Month of the Moon

July marks a few very important anniversaries for those interested in space and the stars: the launch of Apollo 11 (July 16, 1969), the first manned moon landing (July 20, 1969), and 56 years ago next week, the founding of NASA (July 29, 1958). In honor of these awe-inspiring and amazing achievements, Cosimo is highlighting some of our interstellar titles.

Footage from the Apollo 11 moonwalk that was partially restored in 2009 (from NASA)

This is the first story of space exploration and remains a beloved work of daring exploits, and surprisingly accurate scientific conjecture. When the members of the Baltimore Gun Club decide to fill their time by embarking on a project to shoot themselves to the moon, the race is on to raise money, overcome engineering challenges, and convince detractors that they're anything but "Lunatics." First published in France in 1865, this 1918 replica edition includes the 1870's sequel Round the Moon

The Ways of the Planets by Martha Evans Martin
This 1912 volume is as much a love letter to the night sky as it is a compendium of the state of astronomical knowledge at the turn of the 20th century, and so it remains a lovely read for those who understand the romance of scientific inquiry. The observational advice of this little book is still entirely useful-its tips for finding Mercury, Mars, and Venus by the naked eye are clear and concise-but even more vitally, its ponderings on the beauty of the planets manage still, a century later, to bring us Earthlings a little closer to those distant worlds. 
More than a century after its first publication in English, J.L.E. Dreyer's classic work remains a helpful and readable introduction to historical astronomy. Beginning with mankind's first attempts to understand its place in the universe and continuing through the age of Isaac Newton, Dreyer rectifies errors and sets the historical record straight, connecting modern astronomers to those who laid the groundwork before them. This work covers: the earliest cosmological ideas, the Pythagorean school, Plato and Aristotle, the Ptolemaic system, Oriental astronomers, the revival of astronomy in Europe, and much more. 

The Story of the Stars by George F. Chambers
Though our knowledge of the heavens has increased astronomically (pun intended) since 1895, when this primer on skywatching was first published, this work, with its Victorian charm and poetical bent that will remind readers of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, remains a treat for fans of the night sky. Chambers has an equally pleasant approach to the hard science of his day-from a simple explanation of how the study of the stars is connected to the terrestrial science of geography, his ponderings on the meanings of "temporary stars," to an exploration of the stars in verse, from Shakespeare to Tennyson, this book has it all.

Celebrate this month by watching an interactive recreation, find some cosmos inspired redecorating ideas, reading about the above topics, or simply watching the stars go by in the moonlight.

For more titles on space, exploration, and the stars, please visit Cosimo's astronomy page or our astrology page.

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