A Reading List of Stories About the Moon

For the 45th anniversary of the lunar landing, we dipped into the archives. 
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What is it about the moon that inspires people so?

It's gorgeous and glowing—oh, and by the way, humans totally walked on that thing. Nothing like gazing at the moon to make a person marvel at the universe, the wonderfully astounding bigness and smallness of humanity and existence and life and all of it. 

Which is at least part of why the moon comes up in our writing so much.

And so, to commemorate the moment—45 years ago this weekend!—that some brave men in a rocket finally landed on the lunar surface, we're revisiting some of our favorite moon stories. 

If there's something we've forgotten, or other moon reads you think should be on this list, please share links in the comments section. 

* * *

Why Land on the Moon? The moon is the Rosetta stone of the solar system.

What Were the Last Words Spoken on the Moon? Probably not, alas, "let's get this mother out of here"... 

Doomsday Speeches: If D-Day and the Moon Landing Had Failed If these landmark events had ended in tragedy, here's what General Eisenhower and President Nixon planned to say.

How the Moon Became a Real Place Once humans stepped on, smelled, and tasted the lunar surface—our relationship with it changed forever. 

What Space Smells Like Meat, metal, raspberries, rum 

How the Moon Was Born New evidence solves an old mystery about the origins of Earth's largest satellite.

Communion on the Moon: The Religious Experience in Space Our secular endeavor of space exploration is flush with religious observance. Why is that?

No, the Moon Did Not Sink the Titanic That the ship was downed by the alignment of celestial bodies is an alluring theory, but it's not, alas, a plausible one.

Here's a Climate-Change Fix: a Giant Solar-Power Plant on the Moon Imagined by Japan, staffed by robots

The Trash We've Left on the Moon The lunar surface is strewn with hundreds of manmade items, from spacecraft to bags of urine to monumental plaques.

Not Sleeping Well? Blame the Moon Lunar phases seem to affect the length and quality of our sleep.

How Going to Space Can Mess With the Astronaut Brain A new study finds that deep-space travel could warp reaction time.

1 Small Step for a Cam: How Astronauts Shot Video of the Moon Landing On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 beamed video from the moon back to Earth, live. Here's how they did it.

We Just Sent the Mona Lisa to the Moon... With Lasers The first time anyone has achieved one-way laser communication at planetary distances

How Do We Welcome Astronauts Back to Earth? By Making Them Go Through Customs Triumphant returns are also a triumph for bureaucracy.

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon: 'More Desolate Than Any Place on Earth' The second man to set foot on the lunar surface answers the Internet's questions.

Gil Scott-Heron's Poem, 'Whitey on the Moon' It changed the way I thought about the space race forever.

Who Was First in the Race to the Moon? The tortoise

NASA Records an Explosion on the Moon So Bright You Could Have Seen It With Your Bare Eyes And now you can, in a video.

How Did the Moon Form? We May Need a New Theory There may be much more water on the moon than we thought. And that could change everything.

A Rare Glimpse of the Moon Orbiting the Earth From Afar In just a few flickering pixels, our entire planet and its only moon.

We're Now Putting Ads on the Moon A beverage company is soon to put some sports drink on the lunar surface. 

What the Night Sky Would Look Like If the Other Planets Were as Close as the Moon It's not always easy to imagine just how big the other planets are. Here, a space artist's thought experiment turns into a lesson in Earth's relative size.

The Missing Man: There Are No Good Pictures of Neil Armstrong on the Moon The iconic images from the Apollo 11 lunar landing are all of Buzz Aldrin or his footprint.

What If a Large Asteroid Were to Hit the Moon? It would take another nearly moon-sized object to actually move the moon.

The Apollo 11 Journey in Photographs Words can't describe the trip the astronauts—and the nation—took that day.

A Rare Audio Visit to the Apollo 11 Triumph A very, very brief history of the space race in sounds, photographs, and animated GIFs.

Moondoggle: The Forgotten Opposition to the Apollo Program For most of our lunar adventure, a majority of Americans did not support going to the moon. On the 50th anniversary of JFK's "We choose to go the moon" speech, we examine why.

Tower of Light: When Electricity Was New, People Used It to Mimic the Moon Before streetlights became the standard way to light cities, town leaders looked to "moonlight towers" to provide mass illumination.

And the Flag Was Still There New images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera confirm that five of the six American flags on the moon survive.

Kennedy, Before Choosing the Moon: 'I'm Not That Interested in Space' The president sought space not because it was easy, but because it was expedient.

Was the Apollo Project an 'Aberration' for America? The reality was always less glamorous than advertised. 

Astro Mad Men: NASA's 1960s Campaign to Win America's Heart As soon as the agency was established, it set to work buying space in the public imagination.

45 Years Ago We Landed Men on the Moon 45 images of that historic mission, a "giant leap for mankind." 

When We Blew Up Arizona to Simulate the Moon In the late 1960s, NASA created an offworld analogue with dynamite and fertilizer bombs outside Flagstaff, Arizona, so that astronauts could train for the Apollo missions.

Why the Moon Fascinates Us Why haven't we gone back? Is there nothing left to learn? Filmmaker Asher Isbrucker asks these questions and many more.

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Adrienne LaFrance

Adrienne LaFrance is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Technology Channel. Previously she worked as an investigative reporter for Honolulu Civil Beat, Nieman Journalism Lab, and WBURMore

Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gawker, The Awl, and several other publications. 
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