“A History of the Moon” – conference review

St Cross College, Oxford UniversityOpenBuildings | St Cross College, Oxford

The Moon has truly touched every human life on earth and continues to exert a strong influence today: whether gravitationally, emotionally, scientifically or aspirationally. It is that rare thing: a heavenly body that we can aspire to touch and an astronomical phenomenon that appears to change in real-time, whilst remaining perpetually inviolate.

On 19th November 2016, I attended a one-day conference on “A History of the Moon” at St Cross College, Oxford. It was extremely well attended – a full house – with an extremely varied audience doubtless drawn to the many different aspects of the programme.

We were treated to five high quality presentations on the following subjects:

  • The Moon in ancient history through to the Renaissance
  • The Moon through the early telescope and the implications of it presenting the same side to us
  • The Moon and tides
  • Apollo and beyond
  • Towards a Moon Village

Considerable care had obviously been made in selecting the topics and the subject matters fitted rather neatly together without significant overlap. It was also useful to have five high quality speakers with such different perspectives. I found all the subjects interesting but the presentation on the analysis of the tides was particularly fascinating from my maths / physics background. I learnt a lot of new things. I suspect that everyone could find a favourite in there somewhere.

I was also inspired by the quality of the questioning from the floor; it was clear that many of the audience were either in the exploration business, academics, amateur enthusiasts or had thought deeply on the matters covered. The questions asked were on a broad range of subjects connected with the moon and served to draw the best out of the various panel members.

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