The moon does make us mad, though perhaps not in the way that we assume. – Rick Stroud

If you could drive to the moon at a speed of 70 mph, how long would it take? That would be 135 days, according to The Book of the Moon by Rick Stroud. This thorough study of Earth’s nearest and dearest nocturnal, astronomical friend examines everything from basic facts to ancient folklore.

If you are interested in learning more than simple astronomical information about the moon — if you are interested in the very essence of this beautiful, haunting cosmic orb — The Book of the Moon is a delightful source. The book serves as both a technical manual for the moon and also a mystical text. In addition, instead of being presented in a long, word-soup, school-ish format, Stroud breaks up the material into concise, easy-to-read sections, making it highly accessible to readers. Pictures, lists and charts are included throughout, including eight pages of glossy, color photos and art in the book’s midsection.

The book begins with facts and figures, describing the moon’s cycles, evolution and structure. From there, we move on to cover the history of famous astronomers and their discoveries in an easy-to-read chronological timeline format. The next section is about gods and myths surrounding the moon, discussing how the moon has influenced various mindsets and traditions from all over the world. This section includes brief descriptions of popular god/goddess myths.

The second half of the book begins by covering the weather, and includes planting information you might find in an almanac. The lunar exploration delves into a history of the Space Race and Apollo missions. A chapter on magic is a synopsis of everything from astrology to casting spells. Furthering the intrigue, the book then talks about how some life forms and behavior respond to the moon. Included here is everything from medicine to madness, werewolves to science. The final chapter, properly titled “Miscellany,” offers wonderfully random tidbits about the moon — including a delightful-looking recipe for a Blue Moon Cocktail.

The Book of the Moon is a little more than 350 pages and covers so much material that a cover-to-cover reading can be difficult. Unless your voracious appetite for learning allows you to plow through and process a lot of information at once, I would recommend a casual, flip-through approach: Keep the book around and see what piques your interest when the mood strikes.

Stroud's interest in the moon began early. As a child, he and his brother converted his dad's garden shed into a moon rocket. The book's introduction chronicles this anecdote and goes on to explain Stroud's various moon-related activities, including a chance for him to touch a piece of the moon.

His love of the moon followed him into adulthood, and he currently lives in a boat on a sea that is heavily influenced by his beloved moon. He is also a successful television director, and was once nominated for an Emmy. His work has been broadcasted throughout the United States (one television movie, The Last Day and a miniseries, Nancy Astor).

“The moon excites me,” he writes, “and it was to capture that excitement that I set out to write The Book of the Moon.”

I think he’s done just that.

Related on MNN: Visit our new space section.

'The Book of the Moon'
Television director Rick Stroud's book examines everything about the moon, from basic facts to ancient folklore.