From the Earth to the Moon

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One of the earliest science fantasy stories ever written, From the Earth to the Moon follows three wealthy members of a post-Civil War gun club who design and build an enormous columbiad -- and ride a spaceship fired from it all the way to the moon! (From
Curriculet Details
53 Questions
66 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 8th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining scientific and historical references, and the author’s style. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about literary devices and different adaptations of the story. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of diction, summarization, and characterization. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter 1 - The Gun Club

The War of the Rebellion is another term for the Civil War. When might this story be taking place? 
How do American guns differ from the guns of the European countries listed? 
Watch the video below to learn about point of view and cultural perspective. Remember that this story is being told by a Frenchman. How might that lens affect the description of Americans?  (This annotation contains a video)
The highlighted Latin phrase means an essential condition, a thing that is absolutely necessary. 
Why are there so many false and missing body parts among members of the Gun Club? 
Note the change in time. The novel, until now, has been filling in background information about the Gun Club. Now the reader is finally brought into the present time of the story. 
Here is one illustrator's depiction of this scene. What humorous details do you note? (This annotation contains an image)
According to their discussion, what are two matters that make the Gun Club upset? 
Notice how this chapter ends with references to an "unexpected circumstance," yet no details are provided. When the author gives hints like this about future events, it's called "foreshadowing." Watch the video below to learn more. (This annotation contains a video)

Chapter 2 - President Barbicane's Communication

In this context, "corresponding members" would be those who participated mostly through correspondence, or letters. 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Is there a word on this page you need to look up?  
Here is an illustration of the meeting hall interior. Can you make out the construction of the pillars? (This annotation contains an image)
Look up the definition of the word "imperturbable." Now write your own original sentence using the word and providing enough context to show its meaning. 
The men wishing for another war so they can make big guns is another example of humor in the story. As you continue reading, see what other humorous parts you notice. 
In the highlighted sentence, Verne uses the allusion "Columbuses" to indicate that 
Pictured below, Edgar Allen Poe was one of the earliest authors to write in the short story genre, and he is usually given credit as the creator of detective fiction. He is most well-known for his stories of mystery and the macabre. (This annotation contains an image)
The highlighted phrase is an example of a metaphor, as explained in the video below. As you read, consider why the author might use figurative language in certain situations. (This annotation contains a video)
In your own words, tell what "little experiment" Barbicane is proposing to the Gun Club. 

Chapter 3 - Effect of the President's Communication

Keeping in mind that the story is written by a Frenchman, what broad statements does the narrator make in this paragraph that an American might find humorous? 
Consider our modern-day attempts to go to Mars. After visiting the link below and reading about Mars exploration, are there any similarities between the questions raised by Barbicane's proposal and the objectives of the Mars missions? (This annotation contains a link)

Chapter 4 - Reply From the Observatory of Cambridge

What do Barbicane's actions in the highlighted section tell the reader about his personality? 
Verne's science is pretty close. The moon's orbit around Earth is elliptical. At perigee the moon comes as close as 225,623 miles. At apogee the moon is 252,088 miles from Earth. Interestingly, the moon is moving away from Earth at a rate of about 1.5 inches per year. 
Look up the words "perigree" and "zenith." In your own words, explain why December 4th will be a good date to land a rocket on the moon. 
Keeping in mind that it is currently October, according to the calculations of the Observatory of Cambridge, about how many months does the Gun Club have to prepare its cannon? 

Chapter 5 - The Romance of the Moon

Notice how this chapter departs from the narrative and focuses on the creation and composition of the moon. 
Did you know that the Milky Way is visible from Earth with the naked eye? Because we're inside the spinning group of stars and planets, the rest of the galaxy appears as an arch of stars and gaseous clouds in the night sky, as pictured below. If you visit, you can see additional fascinating photos and learn more facts about it. (This annotation contains an image)
Which scientists accurately measured the height of the mountains on the moon? 
Verne uses the term "Selenites" to refer to the inhabitants of the moon. In Ancient Greek mythology, Selene is the goddess of the moon. 
Compare and contrast the style of this chapter with the chapters previous. How does providing all these "scientific" details about the moon contribute to a reader's understanding of the story? 

Chapter 6 - The Permissive Limits of Ignorance and Belief in the United States

Notice how we are now back in the narrative. Consider why Verne would devote a whole chapter to scientific information about the moon, and then delve right back into the story in the next chapter. 
How long does it take the moon to rotate on its axis? 
By looking at the lines of latitude on the world map below, you can see which countries would be possibilities for the Gun Club's launch because the moon will pass directly over them. Are there any locations in the United States that would work? (This annotation contains an image)
Based on Verne's word choice in the highlighted sentence, how does he view Americans? 

Chapter 7 - The Hymn of the Cannon-Ball

Note the humor: Maston has worked up an appetite with his flowery description of the projectile. 
Why does Barbicane claim the projectile must be large? 
Why do you think Verne includes so many numbers and calculations in his story? Would a casual reader really care? Does it affect the realness of the story? 
In order to weigh less than 20,000 pounds, how thick can an iron shell be? 
Estimates vary, but one dollar of today's money would be worth between $20 and $25 in the decades after the Civil War. That means the cost of building the projectile would be about $3.5 million today. 

Chapter 8 - History of the Cannon

In plainer words, the highlighted sentence means that 
Pictured below are the barrels of actual Civil War cannons. The one on top is a smooth-bore barrel, while the one on the bottom shows the grooves of a rifled barrel. The rifled grooves would spin the projectile and stabilize its accuracy over shorter distances. However, that concept didn't hold true for long shots, when a smooth barrel would give the projectile more speed. (This annotation contains an image)
Have you noticed that Barbicane often poses questions to the Gun Club members, yet he rarely listens to their advice? 
Why do Maston, the major, and the general look uneasy? 

Chapter 9 - The Question of the Powders

Actually, academic consensus holds that the Chinese developed gunpowder some time around the ninth or tenth century as they were looking to create a potion for immortality. 
In your own words, explain what the men are trying to determine in this discussion. 
According to the text, why does Barbicane remain silent? 
All these scientists and their discoveries are real, but the the explosive is actually called "nitrocellulose," pictured below. Schönbein occasionally experimented at home in the kitchen. One day, he spilled a mixture of nitric acid and sulfuric acid. After using his wife's cotton apron to mop it up, he hung the apron over the stove to dry, only to find that the cloth spontaneously ignited and burned so quickly that it seemed to disappear. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 10 - One Enemy Vs Twenty-Five Millions of Friends

What is the best meaning of the word "pitch" in the highlighted phrase 
Fifty miles of separation seems like nothing today, but consider that during this time, a horse-drawn stage coach would have traveled between three and five miles per hour, and a steam engine train might have gone 15 miles per hour on average. 
Why does Nicholl attack the Gun Club's efforts? 
Regardless of Nicholl's reasons for doing so, do you think it's a good idea for someone to be critical of Barbicane's grand scheme instead of getting caught up in the fervor with everyone else? 
Part One 

Chapter 11 - Florida and Texas

It is interesting to see how close Verne came to the current reality of NASA launching rockets from Cape Canaveral, indicated by the red dot in the map below. One main reason NASA chose this location is its proximity to the equator. The linear velocity of Earth's surface is greatest at the equator, much as a ceiling fan blade slices through the air faster at its tip than at its center hub, giving a fuel-saving boost to spacecraft attempting to escape Earth's gravity. (This annotation contains an image)
By comparing the competition between Texas and Florida to the age-old debate about the birthplace of one of the most important writers in history, Verne is creating 
Visit the link below to learn a little about the Ancient Greek Homer. Then answer the question that follows. (This annotation contains a link)
Below is an image of American states and territories in 1865. You can see that most of the current states had already taken shape. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is it apt to compare the Floridan's response to the "brevity of ancient Sparta"? 
Here again is another reference to Ancient Greece, in this case, Sparta. Visit the link below to read about Spartan's Laconic speech. (This annotation contains a link)

Chapter 12 - Urbi et Orbi

The highlighted phrase translates to mean "to the City and to the World." It is a type of special occasion blessing the pope gives from Saint Peter's Basilica to the city of Rome and to the entire world to cleanse believers of their sins. Consider why this chapter is titled "Urbi et Orbi" as you continue reading. 
Use the "define" feature to look up the meaning of deriding. Then write an original sentence using the word correctly in a way that shows its meaning. 
Consider that Verne is a Frenchman. Why do you think he has a such a low opinion of Spain? 

Chapter 13 - Stones Hill

What is one result of Florida being chosen as the launch site? 
The Seminole, pictured below, are a Native American tribe who were originally Creek. During their early decades, the Seminole became increasingly independent of other Creek groups and established their own identity. The tribe was further supplemented in the late 18th century by free black people and escaped enslaved people who settled near and paid tribute to Seminole towns.  (This annotation contains an image)
What does Barbicane mean when he wishes they "were at the first stroke of the pickaxe"? 

Chapter 14 - Pickaxe and Trowel

Below is one illustrator's depiction of the fictional Tampa Town. What might be the effects on the small town of Barbicane's venture? (This annotation contains an image)
What figurative language does Verne use to describe a pickaxe? 
The image below might help you imagine the ingenious method of excavation Verne is describing. Can you see the large wooden frame around the outside of the hole, which supports the wall being built from top to bottom while leaving the entire floor of the hole open for more digging? (This annotation contains an image)
Why were the number of accidents during the excavation so low? 

Chapter 15 - The Fete of the Casting

Why is it decided to send the iron by boat instead of by train? 
Imagine how hot it will be when all 1200 furnaces are working at once! 
To what does Verne compare the molten metal? 

Chapter 16 - The Columbiad

Note Verne's brief comment about the power of money. Apparently not everyone is working out of excitement and passion for the project. 
By calling Barbicane "practical" for charging money instead of "greedy," Verne creates a(n) _______ image of him. 
If the Gun Club is this ecstatic at just the completion of the cannon, imagine their reaction upon a successful launch. 

Chapter 18 - The Passenger of the Atlanta

Why is Barbicane unable to ignore Ardan's proposal?  
Semaphore is a method of communication using flags. The position of the flags can be used to spell out individual words, using the key below. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Ardan's attitude towards scientific men? 
A capstan, pictured below, is a vertical-axled rotating machine developed for use on sailing ships to apply force to ropes and cables. Users would insert a pole into one of the openings at the top and apply leverage to turn the crank. What does it say about Maston's level of excitability and foolishness that he had to have his hook pried off the deck with one of these machines? (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 19 - A Monster Meeting

Why does Barbicane try to limit the audience for Ardan's speech? 
Below is one of the original illustrations from the novel showing such an "express train." (This annotation contains an image)
Maston's response to Ardan's theory shows that he is 
Notice how Ardan skillfully answers his detractor, but never phrases his response as his own opinion. He frames his answer within a host of different disciplines, as if, he, himself really isn't smart enough to respond. Do you believe he is as ignorant as he claims? 
The audience is so captivated by Ardan's speech that they actually contemplate what? 
Part Two 

Chapter 20 - Attack and Riposte

According to NASA, the moon does indeed have an atmosphere consisting of some unusual gases, including sodium and potassium, which are not found in the atmospheres of Earth, Mars or Venus. However, it's an infinitesimal amount of air when compared to Earth's atmosphere, and it's not breathable by humans. 
Why is the audience becoming fidgety? 
Notice how people had to trust each other when they had no real way of fact-checking their arguments. How would we deal with Ardan's claim nowadays? 
Read through some of the questions and answers about the moon at the link below. Then answer the following question. (This annotation contains a link)
Is it easier to understand the moon facts given in this novel or on those listed on the website? How does the structure of each text affect its usefulness? 
Do you have any ideas about the identity of Ardan's adversary? 
Had you wondered what was to become of Ardan after he reached the moon? 
Verne writes that Ardan has to "escape" from his admirers because 
How do Barbicane and Nicholl plan to solve their dispute? 

Chapter 21 - How A Frenchman Manages An Affair

Verne seems to imply that duels in other countries are more civilized! 
Why are Ardan and Maston so concerned with Barbicane's safety? 
What do you think has happened to Barbicane and Nicholl? 
Give two details from the text to show that, although he is supposed to be duelling, Nicholl is not a man bent on revenge. 
What do you think Ardan's proposal might be? 
What detail from the text shows that Barbicane is also not interested in revenge on Nicholl? 
Is this what you predicted? Do you think Barbicane and Nicholl will accept? 

Chapter 22 - The New Citizen of the United States

What do "The Lunatics" call their home country? 
P. T. Barnum, pictured below, was an American politician, showman and businessman remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding a circus. He established "P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome," a traveling circus, menagerie and museum of "freaks." Why would he want to display Michel Ardan? (This annotation contains an image)
There is actually quite a long history of animals being used for space exploration experiments. Visit the link below to read about five of these explorers. (This annotation contains a link)
What did Barbicane hope to prove by launching a cat and squirrel over the ocean? 

Chapter 23 - The Projectile-Vehicle

Below is an early illustration of the projectile arriving at Stones Hill. (This annotation contains an image)
What reason does Maston give for volunteering to live in the projectile? 

Chapter 24 - The Telescope of the Rocky Mountains

Notice how, throughout the text, Verne often stops the forward movement of the plot to go into great detail about scientific and technical aspects of the project. Consider other novels you've read. Is Verne's method an effective way to tell a story? Why or why not? 
Here Verne sounds sincerely complimentary towards Americans instead of poking fun at their zeal for the new and adventurous. 

Chapter 25 - Final Details

Why does Barbicane not encourage Ardan's help chasing away spectators? 
Remember that the workers are basically loading a giant cannon with a gun powder substitute. Watch the video below to see the steps use to load and fire a regular-sized Civil War cannon. (This annotation contains a video)
Remember that Barbicane refused Maston's request to go to the moon because he said there was not enough room on the projectile, and now Ardan is proposing to bring a bunch of animals. 
Three men and a couple dogs eating and drinking in a closed ship for several days will also produce quantities of waste. Barbicane chooses not to deal with this unglamorous topic in his detailed preparations. 
The phrases "heart of the cannon" and "bed of explosive eider-down" are both examples of 

Chapter 26 - Fire!

The image below shows about five million people attending a mass by Pope Francis in Manila in 2015. The long rectangle of space between the areas of trees is packed with spectators. Now imagine that many people congregating in the wilds of Verne's fictional Florida over 150 years ago. (This annotation contains an image)
What does it mean that the sound of five million voices singing Yankee Doodle "rose like a roaring tempest to the farthest limits of the atmosphere"? 
Notice how Verne adds to the suspense of the situation with these details. 

Chapter 27 - Foul Weather

Which of the following is not a result of the launching of the projectile? 
In these days of instant communication and 24-hour news, can you imagine having to wait a week for information about an event that gripped the world? 

Chapter 28 - A New Star

Verne's story also inspired movie pioneer George Melies in 1902 to create his classic "A Trip to the Moon." Watch an excerpt below. Use both movie clips to answer the question that follows.  (This annotation contains a video)
This novel was turned into a move in the 1950's. Watch trailer below, paying attention to similarities and differences to the novel. (This annotation contains a video)
What differences did you note between the movie and novel versions of the story?  Why do you think those changes were made in the movies? 
If you enjoyed Verne's exploration of space, you might also like to read his other adventure tales. "Around the World in Eighty Days" focuses on exotic earthly locations, and "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," describes amazing sites of an underwater voyage. 
Part Three