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BAA Journal Book Reviews

Dark skies: A journey into the wild night

Bloomsbury Wildlife, 2019
ISBN 978-1-4729-6459-5
Pp 272, , £16.99 (hbk)

Journal issue: 2019 December
Pages: 367–367

Tiffany Francis, who is familiar with the starry skies above the South Downs where she lives, may already be known to some readers as a writer on food (Food you can forage), the natural world and the need to protect it. In this latest book she tells of travels around Britain and Europe in search of both daytime and night-time landscapes.

This is neither an astronomy book nor a book about light pollution. Rather, it is a lively and fast-paced travelogue which includes many of her own thoughts and opinions on our relationship with both the night sky and the natural world below it. Her own fine illustrations of places visited, each featuring a constellation seen above a dark landscape, adorn the book. Her descriptions of the aurora seen in Scandinavian skies capture the wonder of a ‘wild, uncontrollable light in the dark’.

Legends and literary references abound, while forays into history, prehistory and the modern world are plentiful in this busy narrative. Why do we fear the dark? Why is Halley’s Comet on the Bayeux Tapestry? Who tried to blow up the Greenwich Observatory? The reader won’t necessarily learn much astronomy from Dark Skies, but it is a multi-faceted book that this reviewer certainly enjoyed

Bob Mizon

Bob Mizon is Coordinator of the BAA Commission for Dark Skies.