A half century since the first moon landing, Mark Holborn’s new book Sun and Moon: A Story of Astronomy, Photography and Cartography (Phaidon, $79.95) presents a deeply researched, richly photographed history of modern space exploration. From third century B.C. astronomical clocks and Galileo’s lunar crater sketches to NASA’s geological moon survey and fiery Hubble satellite images, Sun and Moon captures our progress and our enduring fascination with space.

It comes at a time of dynamic exploration from both the private and public sectors. Companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are vying to be leaders in private space tourism; developers like Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit and Vector are promoting small, powerful satellites that don’t require large rocket launchers. The Trump administration has vowed to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024, NASA and Boeing are planning to send a crew to the space station later this year and in late May, Japan joined Canada in partnering with the U.S. on NASA’s Gateway lunar outpost.


Here, some of the mesmerizing photographs in Sun and Moon, showing how far we’ve come:

Left: In 2016, Hubble captured images of Jupiter’s auroras, created by high-energy particles entering the planet’s atmosphere near its magnetic poles and colliding with atoms of gas. Right: Mars photographed from the Hubble on August 27, 2003. Seen at a distance of nearly 35 million miles, Mars that day was at its closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years. (Shown on pages 326-327 of Sun and Moon).

Left: A topographic map of the far side of the Moon, created in 2011 from NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images and laser altimeter. The white, red, green and purple indicate progressively lower elevations. Right: Lunar gravity images in 2012 from the NASA Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, with red corresponding to mass excesses and blue to mass deficiencies. (Shown on pages 348-349).

Auroras on Jupiter

A close look at the auroras on Jupiter, recorded in 2016 during a series of Hubble Imaging Spectrograph far-ultraviolet observations, combined with a separate image of the full disc of Jupiter recorded by Hubble’s Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) program. Photo by NASA/JPLCaltech – Cornell University (shown on page 328).


Apollo 8 on December 24, 1968

William Anders’ iconic Earthrise image, taken from the Apollo 8 on December 24, 1968. Photo by NASA (shown on page 291).

Lick Observatory in Mount Hamilton, Calif

A photochrome print from 1902, in the early days of American space research at the Lick Observatory in Mount Hamilton, Calif. Photo by Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. (shown on page 227).

Eagle Nebula

Taken by a team of Arizona State University researchers in 1995, this is still the most detailed image we have of the Eagle Nebula, an actively star-forming gaseous region 7,000 light years from Earth in the constellation Serpens. NASA/ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) (shown on page 307).

The sun, pictured in an ultraviolet satellite image taken on July 1, 2002.

The sun, pictured in an ultraviolet satellite image taken on July 1, 2002. (Shown on pages 2-3).