Marianne J. Dyson

Home on the Moon

Winner of the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award

I wrote this book because I think it is only a matter of when, not if, humans will build settlements on the Moon. To paraphrase Tsiolkovsky, the Earth is the cradle of humanity, but one cannot live in the cradle forever. In my school visits, I tell children that I'm counting on them to build a retirement center for me on the Moon. The low gravity will be easy on my knees when I am old! I already have my "homestead" picked out: Dyson crater on the Moon's far side, near the north pole. This crater was not named after me! It was named after Sir Frank Dyson, a royal astronomer of England in the early 20th century. (Read more about him in my Space and Astronomy book!) I hope that once kids learn more about how cool the Moon is, they will take up the challenge of leaving this lovely cradle and making us a home up there.

One of the first things kids need to know about the Moon is its geography, so I encourage them to learn it using my Animated Moon Map. Then they can test their knowledge using crossword puzzles posted on that page, and make models and learn spacecraft names with wordfinds. They may also enjoy reading a story set during a Kuk Sool tournament on the Moon. But an even better way to learn about the Moon, is to invite me to come for a Visit!

Home on the Moon is an award-winning book targeted for upper elementary and middle-school readers, but full of information that parents and teachers will also enjoy. You don't have to take my word for it! Read the reviews below. Also, I'm happy to report that the book earned out! (This means it sold enough copies to pay off the advance!)

Marianne Dyson with AIP Windsor "trophy" Chair

HOME ON THE MOON was selected by the American Institute of Physics to receive the 2004 Science Writing Award in the children's category. This award consists of a $3,000 cash prize, an inscribed Windsor chair (see above), and a certificate. The National Geographic Society also received a certificate of recognition (as the publisher of the book). The award was presented to Marianne Dyson by Dr. James H. Stith, Vice President of the Physics Resources Center at the 2005 American Association of Physics Teachers Winter Meeting in Albuquerque, NM on January 10, 2005. More information about the award is available on the AIP website.

Excerpt from the end of chapter 1:

"People are ready to reach for the moon again. Apollo astronaut John Young said recently, "I sincerely hope that the human race will have sense enough to go out and explore space and learn to live and work on these other places because the long-term benefit will be the preservation of our species."

The cost and risk to return to the moon are low enough now that the first outposts will probably be built in the very near future. Apollo 15 astronaut Dave Scott explained why people will go. "As I stand out here in the wonders of the unknown at Hadley, I sort of realize there's a fundamental truth to our nature. Man must explore. And this is exploration at its greatest."

The lunar frontier calls to a new generation of explorers. Maybe you will be one of them."

Book Information and Reviews

Title: Home on the Moon: Living on a Space Frontier
Author: Marianne J. Dyson
Illustrator: Jean Picou (designer), Pat Rawlings (cover art), Barbara L. Gibson (activities)
Editors: Nancy Laties Feresten, Jennifer Emmett
Ages: 8-12
Number of Pages: 64
Format: hardback
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Date: 2003
Retail Price:$18.95
ISBN: 0792271939

The cover of HOME ON THE MOON is available as a high resolution 300 dpi jpg or a low resolution 72 dpi jpg.

Print out and share this HOME ON THE MOON flier to generate publicity for your author visit event.

Media Reports

The American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award Announcement brought lots of media attention. It was covered by the Society of Physics Students, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, SciFi News, Guidry News, and the Houston Business Journal.

Selenology: The Journal of the American Lunar Society

Winter 2003

Book review by William Dembrowski, FRAS & Erin Glover. "Perhaps the greatest appeal of the Moon, especially for young people, is its accessibility. After all, people have actually been there. Marianne Dyson, an American Lunar Society member and former NASA Mission Controller, takes this idea and flies with it. In five, logically progressive chapters she moves from what the Moon has to offer to what it will take to get there and survive. Along the way she provides some relevant technical information, but always in a manner understandable to the intended age group. Personally, however, I would extend the designated age range to include those a few years beyond what is listed by the publisher.

"The illustrations (NASA photographs and artists' renderings), are not only beautiful they are appropriate to the text ... always a relief. The book even provides several low-tech activities to demonstrate some of the physical principles involved. All in all I think that it would make a great gift for the science minded youngster. It is sometimes difficult, however, to be sure how someone in a different age group will view a book. With this in mind, I passed the book along to Erin Glover... a very bright high school freshman... Erin made the following remarks:

"Home on the Moon: Living on a Space Frontier is a wonderful book. It gives a fascinating view of what life on the Moon could be like and how we can get there. As a teenager, I really enjoyed learning about ideas that may be a reality in the near future, when I will be old enough to participate. It also gives a good look at the Moon itself and the differences between the Moon and the Earth that will lead to both advantages and challenges in the future. The book is interesting and easy to understand and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know about the past and future exploration of the Moon."

The Horn Book Guide

January - June 2003

"4-6. Drawing on up-to-date research on the viability of a moon base, Dyson integrates explanations of lunar science into her sophisticated discussion of the engineering challenges of getting to and living on the moon. Apollo mission photos and artists' conceptions of life on the moon illustrate the book. Add-on experiments throughout vary in quality and relevance. Reading list, websites. Bib., glos., ind." DJF.

School Library Journal

September 2003

"Gr. 4-6. A former NASA Mission Controller turns real estate agent, of sorts, in this engaging look at the Moon's history, resources, and potential as a site for future colonization. After hitching a vicarious ride aboard Apollo 8, Dyson delves into the Moon's origins, explains which resources future settlers will find and which they will need to bring with them, describes the difficulties of the journey there, and offers general suggestions about colony design. Enhanced by plenty of big, clear, color photos and artists' conceptions; four low-tech science activities; and fact summaries about the Moon and the Apollo program, this title should not only be popular for reports, but is also apt to inspire a yen in more than a few young readers to walk where the astronauts walked. - John Peters, New York Public Library.


July 2003, page 1881

"Gr. 5-8. Dyson, who worked at NASA as a mission controller, makes a solid case for moon exploration and helps readers imagine what it will be like. Recounting the experiences of astronauts who visited the moon, she presents some of the challenges of building a lunar outpost and suggests how to meet them. Detailed captions accompany the colorful illustrations, which include impressive photographs, maps, paintings and digital pictures. Each chapter ends with a suggested activity, such as making an edible moon rock or building a model of a lunar explorer. A glossary and a source bibliography are appended, as well as lists of moon facts, astronauts who visited or orbited the moon, and recommended books and Web sites. Clear writing, vivid images, interesting details, and quotes from astronauts and scientists make this a lively, fact-filled introduction." Carolyn Phelan. Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Posted on Barnes &

A reviewer, June 12, 2003, 5 STARS To infinity and beyond!

As a Media Specialist of an elementary school I highly suggest this book as a great read and tool for the classroom. Dyson continues to engage us with non-fiction options in her new book. I am still reeling from the idea of one day humans will live on the moon. She includes facts, renderings and futuristic plans that will make any reader young or old understand the moon as an outpost.

Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin, Summer 2003

Home on the Moon was featured in the Summer 2003, Issue 94 of the "Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin" as a 'New and Noteworthy' publication.

Posted on

Excellent book about the moon written for young people, May 28, 2003

Reviewer: Geoffrey A. C. Landis from Berea OH

Marianne Dyson's book gives a realistic look at the science of traveling to, and living on the moon. Her easy-to-understand style, terrific enthusiasm, and excellent knowledge of the subject make this book one of the best books about the moon written for young people. Let's go to the moon!

May 11, 2003 Indianapolis Star

Headline: National Geographic offers new children's books

Copyright: (c) Copyright 2003, The Indianapolis Star. All Rights Reserved.


Section: FOCUS

"We're all familiar with the yellow-bordered magazine published by the National Geographic Society and the documentaries about nature and diverse cultures, but not as many know the society publishes a variety of exceptional books for children on topics ranging from backyard nature to the universe.

"This spring, several new books from National Geographic are worth adding to youngsters' bookshelves:… [text omitted]

"A little closer to Earth, Marianne J. Dyson takes us;Home on the Moon: Living on a Space Frontier; ($18.95). The former National Aeronautical and Space Administration mission controller helps children imagine what life would be like living on the moon. Key facts are presented in interesting, easy-to-understand ways.

"Dyson points out that, except for water, the moon has the same raw materials as Earth; She says that lunar pioneers, once they arrive, must learn quickly how to live off the land.

"Images from NASA files, artistic renditions of a moon colony, hands-on activities and a list of men who have orbited or walked on the moon will hold the interest of ages 8-12."


Imagine living on the moon. What would you eat? Where and how would you make your home? Written by a former NASA mission controller with firsthand knowledge of the space program, this intriguing book combines a vivid description of humankind's race to the moon with a detailed vision of the moon as our next frontier. Dyson packs lots of moon science into this futuristic vision, presenting kids with key facts in many fields - from geology to engineering to astronautics. Actual images of the moon from NASA's extensive files are paired throughout with imaginative yet accurate artistic renditions of how a moon colony might look. And four hands-on activities make even the most difficult concepts easy for kids to grasp.


The last footprint on Earth's moon dates from 1972. That was more than 30 years ago. Isn't it time for our return?

In fact, humans will set foot on the moon again, probably someday soon. And this time it won't be just to visit.

With exhaustive research and a solid scientific base, Marianne Dyson helps us imagine what it would be like to live on the moon. It won't be like life on Earth.

Humans must use science and technology to live where there is no atmosphere; where surface temperatures drop hundreds of degrees when the sun sets; where no magnetic field shields life from radiation. Future settlers will probably live in buried domes. Inside their habitats, the low gravity will allow lunar residents to strap on wings and fly!

Lunar scientists will go where no human has gone before - to the mysterious far side of the moon. This remote area offers a radio-quiet and steady platform from which to view the depths of the universe. The near side, with a never-setting Earth seen above towering mountains, will provide moon tourists with an awe-inspiring view.

Home on the Moon goes way beyond the Apollo experience. It covers the moon's formation, its resources, and its unique features, and describes plans for the first human outposts. The fact-filled text and compelling imagery transforms the gray lunar landscape into an enticing frontier.

Includes four moon science activities!


Marianne J. Dyson is a former Mission Controller for NASA who today shares her passion for space by writing for children. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a degree in physics, she also studied space physics and astronomy at Rice University in Texas. Marianne's first book, Space Station Science, won the 1999 Golden Kite Award and was an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book. She's also the author of Homework Help on the Internet. Marianne serves on the Board of Directors of the National Space Society, is active in the Mars Society, the Johnson Space Center Chapter of the NASA Alumni League, and the Moon Society. Marianne Dyson lives in Houston, Texas, where, when not writing, she practices the martial art of Kuk Sool, plays guitar, and saves her money for a trip to the moon.

Jacket copyright © 2003 National Geographic Society
Jacket design by Jean Picou-620 Design.
National Geographic Society
1145 17th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-4688
Printed in the United States of America

More Information

Home on the Moon won the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award!

Teachers, this book has an AR test.

Parent/Teacher Resources - hands-on activities and puzzles - Apollo crew transcripts (an original source)
- government-checked moon facts. - What was the moon phase when you were born? Moon phases past and future.

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