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Sunday, July 07, 2013

Appreciating the Beauty of the Night Sky. The End of Night by Paul Bogard

The Starry Night Sky

Paul Bogard was astonished when a relative wanted to know what the 'white dots in the sky' were.  She didn't know that they were stars!

Luckily, this is unusual.  However, the rapid growth of artificial light means that most of us never see the real night sky.  Consequently, we have lost the poetry and the romance of the night.  In this fascinating and highly informative book, Bogard outlines what this means for us and for our fellow creatures.  He also delves into history, philosophy and culture.

Bogard's The End of Night has chapters comparing the cleverly designed and romantic lighting of Paris with the poor lighting of London, and the history of gas and electric light.  He also travels to the isolation of Thoreau's Walden Pond to study the night sky, and see how it has changed.

Bogard studies the effects of light pollution on our health, and talks to shift workers about how working at night affects them.  He writes about the links between artificial light and disease, and the rise of sleep disorders.  He laments the loss of the siesta, and wonders about the solutions to the problems of shift work and lack of sleep.


Much of this book is extremely worrying, for example, the effects of light pollution on animals, birds and insects.  It is all interesting, however, and Bogard is a wonderful advocate for solving these concerns.

Bogard's lyrical writing, interviews with varied people, and excellent knowledge of the night sky make this book a joy to read.  I especially liked the more philosophical chapters about the history of our feelings about the night, attitudes of people of other cultures towards the night and his suggestions about how we can discover the poetry and romance of the beautiful night sky.





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