End of Night

end of night cover image End of Night

by Paul Bogard
Reflections on Nature
Little Brown & Company
Hardcover, 336 pages
$27.00

This book was a finalist for the Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award.
 
Paul Bogard takes us on a progressively darkening tour of the night sky going from the brightest point on the planet – Las Vegas’ Luxor Beam – to one of the darkest – the Great Basin National Park also, interestingly, in Nevada. Bogard’s premise is that light pollution is more and more alienating us from the beauty and importance of the night sky. His metrics are horrifying! He projects that 80% of children born in the US today will never know a night dark enough to see the Milky Way and that for 75% of us our eyes never switch to night vision.
 
Bogard has roots in the north having been born in Minneapolis and spending time in northern Wisconsin where his love for the night sky grew and set. He even had a stint at Northland College. There, in the Apostle Islands and some places along the south shore of Lake Superior, the Milky Way blazes across the sky, the northern lights shimmer, and the moon casts its own light and shadows. The range of Bogard’s exploration is worldwide and his prose is a deep pleasure. Witness:
 

“These are maybe the most exciting stars, those just above where sky meets land and ocean, because we so seldom see them, blocked as they usually are by atmosphere…and, as I grow more and more accustomed to the dark, I realize that what I thought were still clouds straight overhead aren’t clearing and aren’t going to clear, because these are clouds of stars, the Milky Way come to join me.
There’s the primal recognition, my soul saying, yes, I remember.”