Night falls over the equator, and Phoebus rises from the west. It takes only 4¼ hours for this nearest moon to cross the sky-more than enough time for it to wax, from new to full.
This is the enduring charm of Mars: The more you learn about it, the stranger it seems. Moore's sober, common-sense tale of discovery cannot help but be as much about the garish Mars of the imagination as it is about the physical planet--and the changes wrought upon that imaginary twin have been truly cataclysmic. Lowell's charming canals lie shattered beneath the gargantuan volcanic sierras of Olympus, Ascraeus and Pavonis. The frozen carbon dioxide and thin hoar- frost of the Mars' meagre poles have vanished beneath huge quantities of water ice, bringing with it the nagging possibility of subterranean oceans and, every few tens of millions of years, an intermittent period of fertility.
Moore is better placed than most to give earlier observations and imaginations their due. When he wrote Guide to Mars in 1955, it was commonly believed that the dark areas of the planet's surface were due to vegetation. And, given all the advances in our understanding in the mere 40 years since then, it seems perfectly natural for Moore to conclude his account by writing seriously about the likely shape of future colonies there.
A home astronomer's guide, a memoir, a history that ably demonstrates the interplay between scientific data and interpretation: however you read it, Patrick Moore on Mars is more poetic and inspiring than it knows. --Singon Ings