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Wood Authors 21st Century Atlas of the Moon

Tue Feb 5 2013

An American spacecraft currently orbiting the Moon is providing the best images ever of our Moon. Dr. Charles A. "Chuck" Wood, director of the Center for Educational Technologies at Wheeling Jesuit University, has used these new images to publish the 21st Century Atlas of the Moon.

Coauthored with amateur astronomer Maurice Collins of New Zealand, the atlas is based on pictures from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), an unmanned mission to map the Moon with resolution good enough to see the rovers that Apollo astronauts used to drive across the lunar surface.

"The mosaics created from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are finally taking the understanding of the Moon significantly beyond Apollo-era data," Wood said.

He would certainly know. Wood first began studying the Moon in the days before the Apollo missions, and he later published seminal work on the Moon's geology based on data gathered from early Moon missions.

His newest book, his fifth, offers a more detailed look at the Moon than was possible until recently.

"What makes our atlas different—and better—than existing ones? Its use of LRO images gives it uniformly high resolution for the nearside, and special charts provide detailed images of distinctive features. The text gives a modern understanding of the origin and formation of the Moon and its features." Wood said.

The 108-page atlas features spiral-bound 8.5" x 11" pages.

"This size page yields good image scale and convenience for use at the telescope or a desk," Wood said. "Like all previous lunar atlases, it optimizes the features important to its authors, and, I hope, to many readers."

The book's design was developed by graphic artist Cassandra Lightfritz, who has won numerous awards for her work at the Center for Educational Technologies.

Wood self-published the book, a first for him and something he calls especially exciting.

"There were publishers who wanted to do it, but I wanted the experience of doing it all, from writing to editing to design and layout to finding a printer to advertising and promoting and mailing out copies," Wood said, noting that he already has sold out the first printing.

The 21st Century Atlas of the Moon can be ordered through his Lunar Photo of the Day website for $29.95 on a special order page. It is also available at the SMARTcenter at Centre Market in downtown Wheeling.

The atlas is Wood's second recent publication using new images from the Moon. In 2011 he joined Motomaro Shirao, who worked with the Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA), in writing The Kaguya Lunar Atlas: The Moon in High Resolution. The 184-page hardcover version of that book is available for $24.10 through Amazon.

Wood's life seems to revolve around the Moon. He writes the daily blog, Lunar Photo of the Day, has written a monthly lunar column for Sky & Telescope magazine since 1998, and has authored three other books dealing with the Moon, volcanoes, and impact craters. Wood also chairs the Lunar Nomenclature Task Group of the International Astronomical Union, which approves new names for features on the Moon. And he has a small telescope in his backyard to observe the Moon.