The brief era of manned missions to the Moon retains to this day a gloss of excitement that other space ventures have never quite equalled. Fans of science and science-fiction revere the Apollo astronauts and the technology behind them – and that is why we still get new books about them, such as Apollo: the Extraordinary Visual History of the Iconic Space Programme written and illustrated by Zack Scott.
This is a beautifully designed coffee-table book full of every fact you might ever want to know about the Apollo missions, including details only recently released by NASA. It dedicates most of its space to large two-colour drawings of every piece of Apollo equipment, from each stage of the Saturn V rockets to the astronauts’ helmets. There is a double-page spread on each Apollo astronaut who walked on the Moon (an unnecessary distinction, I thought, but then again even those 12 profiles got a little repetitive) and another on each Apollo mission.
Text is restrained to short blocks that stick to the facts – there are few anecdotes or quotes here, though the book does open and close with excerpts from John F Kennedy’s famous 1962 “We choose to go to the Moon” speech. After all the equipment, people and missions have been introduced, the last third of the book is dedicated to elegant infographics about the Moon and the overall Apollo programme. Ever wanted to see all the Apollo landing sites on a map of the Moon? Now you can. Some of the infographics have a fun sense of humour, such as the speed of the crawler-transporter being compared with a brisk walk (faster) and a drifting iceberg (slower). But some of them are a little dry. This isn’t a book to read cover-to-cover – you would quickly find yourself overloaded by information if you tried that – but it is a great and stylish reference book made with real admiration for its subject.
Zack Scott Apollo: the Extraordinary Visual History of the Iconic Space Programme 2017 Headline Publishing 160pp £20.00hb Enjoy the rest of the December 2017 issue of Physics World in our digital magazine or via the Physics World app for any iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. Membership of the Institute of Physics required About the author Kate Gardner is content and production manager of Physics World