How Earth’s Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us Who We Are

Far from being a lifeless ornament in the sky, the Moon holds the key to some of science’s central questions, and in this fascinating account of our remarkable satellite, award-winning science journalist Rebecca Boyle shows us why it is the secret to our success.

The Moon stabilizes the Earth’s tilt toward the Sun, creating reliable seasons. The durability of this tilt over millennia stabilizes our climate. The Moon pulls on the ocean, driving the tides. It was these tides that mixed nutrients in the sea, enabling the evolution of complex life and, ultimately, bringing life onto land.

But the Moon also played a pivotal role in our conceptual development. While the Sun helped humans to mark daily time, hunters and gatherers used the phases of the Moon to count months and years, allowing them to situate themselves in time and plan for the future. Its role in the development of religion—Mesopotamian priests recorded the Moon’s position to make predictions about the Moon god–created the earliest known empirical, scientific observation.

Boyle deftly reframes the history of scientific discovery through a lunar lens, from Mesopotamia to the present day. Touching on ancient astronomers including Claudius Ptolemy; ancient philosophers from Anaxagoras to Plutarch; the scientific revolution of Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler; and the lunar fiction of writers like Jules Verne–which inspired Wernher von Braun, the Nazi rocket scientist who succeeded in landing humans on the Moon–Boyle charts our path with the Moon from the origins of human civilization to the Apollo landings and up to the present.

Even as astronauts around the world prepare to return to the Moon, opening up new frontiers of discovery, profit, and politics, Rebecca Boyle brings the Moon down to Earth.


“A riveting feat of science writing that recasts that most familiar of celestial objects into something eerily extraordinary, pivotal to our history, and awesome in the original sense of the word.”
 –Ed Yong, New York Times bestselling author of An Immense World

“Epic in scope—and almost poetic in its narrative beauty—Our Moon will change how you think about our planet, the Moon, and ourselves.”
–Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish

“I learned more about the Moon by reading this book than I have in a lifetime of study. Replete with fascinating insights into the Moon’s origins and history, but more than that, what it has meant to us, the people of Earth, Our Moon is a must-read for anyone who has looked up at the Moon in wonder.”
–Chris Hadfield, astronaut, bestselling author of The Apollo Murders and An Astronaut’s Guide to Life On Earth

“An excellent exploration. Boyle’s dexterous blend of science and cultural history is elevated by her spry prose…. This illuminates.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“With a remarkable command of planetary science and human history, Boyle provides a sweeping, lyrical new account of our cosmic neighbor, brilliantly reframing our relationship to a moon that intimately shaped, and continues to shape, the course of life on Earth.”
Peter Brannen, author of The Ends of the World

“Glinting with intriguing facts and fascinating connections, Our Moon reveals the astoundingly intimate relations between the closest heavenly body, the Earth, and all life as we know it. Boyle’s writing shines, shifting through time and space, science and sentiment—a luminous read.”
–Rebecca Wragg Sykes, author of Kindred

“Deft, poetic, ambitious. Boyle’s command of her subject is so clear, her journalistic instincts and interdisciplinary research so impressive, that readers will have no qualms about learning to see their world through a moon-colored lens.”
–Scientific American

“Delves deeply… A solid education on our closest celestial neighbor.”

“Exuberant, enjoyable. An appealing literary trip to the Moon.”

“Enlightening … descriptions will engage readers. A solid biography of the Moon.”
–Library Journal