Hiroyuki Masuyama, The Piazzetta in Venice by Moonlight (by Friedrich Nerly, 1838) (2018) (detail). Photo: Hiroyuki Masuyama, © the artist.
I remember exactly where and when I decided to write a book about the moon: lying on my back in a dentist's chair, waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect. To distract his patients, the dentist had tacked a poster to the ceiling: a NASA image of the earth from space at night. I was struck by the way so much of the northern hemisphere glitters with artificial light, cutting us off from the experience of night as our forefathers knew it and severing a connection with the cycles of the moon that has existed since the beginning of human history. This radical shift is relatively recent: the roll-out of electric illumination in public spaces has occurred over the past 150 years or so. It was the relegation of the moon from a central place in human culture to that of washed-out bystander that made we want to write about it.