An Astronomer’s Guide to the Best Books About the Moon

Looking at the moon through a telescope is one of the simplest and most rewarding activities that an amateur astronomer can undertake.

That simplicity hides a depth of detail which we can all use a little help with, and this guide takes a quick peek at the best books for helping you get the most out of your moon observations.​

Immediately below here, the table summarises the best moon books for astronomers and you can find more detail on each below the table.

There's a little something for everyone: moon books with pictures, moon survey books and even a book answering questions about the moon.​

If you want to find out the latest price or read more detail, clicking on the picture or title of the book will take you to (don't worry - this page will stay open).​





The Moon Book

Michael Carlowicz

This is a'coffee table' book, well regarded for its amazing pictures, rather than its astronomic focus.

The Moon Book by Kim Long

Kim Long

If you have a question about the moon, then this is the book for you. There isn't a question you can think of that these 140 pages don't answer.

The Clementine Atlas of the Moon

Ben Bussey & Paul Spudis

This book contains 144 maps of the entire lunar surface from the Clementine mission.

The 2012 update also added full shaded relief maps from LROC. 

A man on the moon: the voyages of the apollo astronauts

Andrew Chaikin

This weighty book (over 700 pages) has every detail you could imagine about the missions based on interviews with 23 of the 24 astronauts who flew them.

Turn Left at Orion

Guy Consolmagno & Dan M. Davis

Not strictly a book about the moon, but it does have 15 detailed pages about it, making it a great 'phases of the moon book'.

Detailed Reviews of Moon Books

The Moon, by Michael Carlowicz

The Moon Book

Michael Carlowicz has pulled together a large and beautifully photographed book of the moon, and called it - appropriately enough - The Moon.

The folks on Good Reads​ rate it well, but mainly for its 'gorgeous photographs' than its comprehensive coverage of our only satellite.

The Moon comes highly recommended if you have a romantic view of the moon and will be content with getting lost in the stunningly detailed imagery whilst enjoying a cup of coffee.

As an astronomer with a passion for moon gazing, you may want something that offers some more comprehensive detail, like The Clementine Atlas of the Moon (reviewed below) instead.​

The Moon Book by Kim Long

At just 140 pages, Kin Long's 'The Moon Book' may be concise, but it answers pretty much any question about the moon which you can think of.

'How big is the moon compared the United States' and ​'how fast does the moon's shadow move across Earth during an eclipse' are in there.

Subjects include lagrange points and the Apollo missions​, as well as occultations and librations.

The Moon Book has only positive reviews, saying what a joy it is to read and that this fun little book will be a benefit in your collection.

The Clementine Atlas of the Moon

This book is much more for the detailed lunar observer.

​There are 144 detailed lunar maps in here, covering the whole moon surface. Based on pictures from NASA's Clementine mission of 1994, they were fully updated in 2012 with data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission.

What we're treated to in this book are some of the most detailed images of the moon's surface (near and far sides), as well as colour plates showing its material make up.

It also contains an incredibly complete database of the moon's surface features, which is a step on from the average lunar map we (should) all own.​

Whilst the first section of the book contains some good, detailed information on the science and history of the moon, this is not its main purpose.

You buy this book - as one reviewer notes - for the comprehensive atlas of the moon's surface, which will be fascinating to the amateur astronomer and indispensable for the professional researcher.

A man on the moon: the voyages of the apollo astronauts

Of course this is a website about amateur astronomy, and these books on the moon are aimed at the amateur astronomer, but...

I couldn't bring myself to review the books with moon in the title and not include one that covered our exploits to land on it back in the 70s.

This huge 720 page book is written as a story from the perspective of the astronauts themselves (23 of the 24 Apollo spacemen were interviewed when writing this book - as were many pivotal 'back room' staff) which packs a real emotional punch.

Thankfully, there are enough technical insights to keep those of us who want the finer detail satisfied, and it's done so in a way which highlights the dangers and 'amateurish' understanding of space travel back then - which all makes for a suspenseful read.

Whilst you won't learn much about the moon's surface and phases, this is a great read for those moments when the clouds cross in front of the moon and you're left with time to pass until the skies clear again.​

Turn Left at Orion

This final book on our list of best moon books for astronomers is not just about the moon (and it's not one of the books with moon in the title).

I should come clean and admit that this is my personal favourite astronomy book, with a wealth of detail about what you'll see across the night sky based on the size of your scope - including drawings.

Why has it made it to this list then, you may ask.

Simply, it has 18 big, detailed pages on observing the moon. They start with an overview, with things like lunar geography and phases.

Next is the part that makes this the best phases of the moon book: detail of what is best to view on the lunar surface at each stage of the lunar phase, e.g. nights 2&3 of the crescent moon and 11&12 of the 'almost full' moon.

If you don't want to buy a book just about the moon, but would like some more details, then this is perfect... and it has another couple of hundred pages about the rest of the night sky too!​

Best Moon Books, Summary

There you have it: five of the best moon books for amateur astronomers.

You've been given a selection of facts about the moon (The Moon Book), detailed maps (The Clementine Atlas of the Moon), stunning imagery (The Moon), its exploration (A Man on the Moon) and general observing guidance (Turn Left at Orion).

I hope in there, you find the perfect fit for your moon observing fun. If you'd like a our free moon calendar to help with you lunar observing, click here to download it.

Image Credits

Product images sourced from​

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