New Stuff Tuesday — September 10, 2013

The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light

The End of Night:
Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light
by Paul Bogard
TD195.L52 B64 2013
New Arrivals, 2nd floor

During my teenage years in the Chicago suburbs, nights took on a perpetual orange glow as Chicago installed its sodium streetlights. The stars of my childhood faded into the oblivion of artificial twilight.

So when I came across a review of this book, it naturally caught my eye. James Madison University creative writing professor, Paul Bogard, takes readers on a jaunt around the globe in search of the night. He starts out in Las Vegas, the city of perpetual light as he examines how cities wreak havoc with darkess.

Bogard’s book is pretty much a natural history of the night as it’s chased ever further away by man-made intrusions. Spending time at Walden Pond, he waxes philosophical on Thoreau’s experience of night and darkness. He explores our primal fears of the darkness as well as our bodies’ biological need for it.

After traveling overseas the author ends his quest at the Great Basin National Park in Nevada, only a few hundred miles away from its beginning. The park is such an incredible star-gazing site that it hosts an annual astronomy festival.

This book reminds me that in the inky black winter nights of the Wisconsin northwoods, the stars of my childhood still shimmer. And on another happy note, Chicago is nixing some of those nasty sodium lights.

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