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Dana Mackenzie

The Big Splat or how our moon came to be

Since the earliest times the moon has been considered an object of mystery. The Big Splat (or how our moon came to be) describes how one mystery about the moon was resolved - that of its formation. It is now largely agreed that early in the history of the solar system a Mars size planetoid collided with the proto-Earth to result in the Moon and a somewhat modified Earth. Although this was decided over 20 years ago, I have to say that it hadn't really entered my knowledge base - I found it a bit of a surprise. If you too feel that your knowledge of our closest astronomical neighbour needs updating then I would certainly recommend this highly readable book.

The first third of the book looks at the early history of lunar observations and ideas about the moon, from the ancients up to the work of Laplace. This is followed by three chapters describing the theories of lunar formation which were current at the start of the space age - Daughter Moon, Captive Moon and Sister Moon. Mackenzie then describes how we went to the moon, and how the information obtained modified our opinions of it, leading up to the rather abrupt 'Big Splat' consensus forming at a conference in Kona, Hawaii in 1984.

Product Description
The first popular book to explain the dramatic theory behind the Moon's genesis

This lively science history relates one of the great recent breakthroughs in planetary astronomy-a successful theory of the birth of the Moon. Science journalist Dana Mackenzie traces the evolution of this theory, one little known outside the scientific community: a Mars-sized object collided with Earth some four billion years ago, and the remains of this colossal explosion-the Big Splat-came together to form the Moon. Beginning with notions of the Moon in ancient cosmologies, Mackenzie relates the fascinating history of lunar speculation, moving from Galileo and Kepler to George Darwin (son of Charles) and the Apollo astronauts, whose trips to the lunar surface helped solve one of the most enigmatic mysteries of the night sky: who hung the Moon?

Dana Mackenzie (Santa Cruz, CA) is a freelance science journalist. His articles have appeared in such magazines as Science, Discover, American Scientist, The Sciences, and New Scientist.