The Women of the Moon:
Tales of Science, Love, Sorrow, and Courage
Oxford University Press, 2019, 336 pp., Hardcover. $26.95. global.oup.com
Philosophers and poets in times past tried to figure out why the stainless Moon “smoothly polished, like a diamond,” in Dante’s words, had stains. The agreed solution was that, like a mirror, it reflected the imperfect Earth. Today we smile, but it was a clever way to understand the Moon in a manner that was consistent with the beliefs of their age. The Moon is no longer the “in” thing. We see it as often as the Sun and give it little thought— we’ve become indifferent. However, the Moon does reflect more than just sunlight. The Moon, or more precisely the nomenclature of lunar craters, still holds up a mirror to an important aspect of human history. Of the 1586 craters that have been named honoring philosophers and scientists, only 28 honor women. These 28 women of the Moon present us with an opportunity to meditate on this gap, but perhaps more significantly, they offer us an opportunity to talk about their lives, mostly unknown today.