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The Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimage

4.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  131 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Probing the depths of science and faith, scientist Chet Raymo investigates the mysteries of human spirituality and meaning contained in astronomy. Ranging through the stars and the myths humans have told about them for millennia, Raymo delves into a pilgrimage in quest of the soul of the night. Chet Raymo s elegant essays link the mysterious phenomena of the night sky with ...more
Paperback, 209 pages
Published August 25th 2005 by Cowley Publications (first published 1985)
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Soul on Ice by Eldridge CleaverThe Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas AdamsThe Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du BoisDead Souls by Nikolai GogolSoul to Take by Helen  Bateman
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Jan 11, 2009 Stephen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Raymo writes:

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, said Henry David Thoreau, and if his book continues to attract us it is because we are desperate. In desperation, I turn to night as Thoreau turned to his pond. I measure those starry spaces with the same care of rods and chains that the naturalist of Concord used to measure Walden. Thoreau plumbed the depths of Walden Pond and marked them on his map. He surveyed the fish that lived in the waters of the pond, he catalogued its weeds,
Feb 01, 2009 Nancy rated it really liked it
Raymo does a good job of combining science and religion. When he talks about the 'sacred place,' he seems to mean man's relationship with the cosmos, the sacred place being within oneself. He has a great respect for nature. I like what he said about the importance of silence as a requisite for contemplation and how the night sky offers us that. I liked his many references to literature and poetry, i.e.: Theodore Roethke, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Emily Dickenson, etc.
Douglas Dalrymple
Aug 04, 2015 Douglas Dalrymple rated it really liked it
This book was a real surprise for me, something I picked up on a whim, knowing nothing about it. Raymo is a terrific essayist, writing on astronomy, physics, ornithology, philosophy and spirituality in a way that defies easy categorization. The Soul of the Night was originally published in the 1980s and ought to be considered a classic of American science/nature writing. It’s certainly a book I’ll be recommending to others and one I know I’ll want to read again someday. I’ve already added a coup ...more
Nov 18, 2013 Brandon rated it it was amazing
It's been a long time since I've read as moving, insightful, and beautiful a book as this, so long I'd almost thought those days were behind me, days that went with the discovery of late adolescence and early adulthood. Here I was happily proved wrong. Think Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek meets Timothy Ferris' Coming of Age in the Milky Way meets Loren Eiseley's Immense Journey.

In this book, Raymo continually goes back and forth between earthly images and things, like birds, and fish, a
Jan 31, 2011 Norm rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: astronomers everywhere
Shelves: 2011
This book, like 365 Starry Nights: An Introduction to Astronomy for Every Night of the Year, is beautiful and engaging. Jan and I bought it together at Stellafane 2010 as an homage to Raymo and our continued friendship. I received it from Jan with a note comparing it to Thoreau - high praise indeed. I haven't yet read Thoreau, but I would put it in the same league as Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac. This book is a song for the quiet souls of astronomers in the night. It does explore the spa ...more
Nov 07, 2015 Erica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The Walden of the night sky, even 20 years later the science is still surprisingly relevant, and the writing is beautiful, highly poetic, reflective and entrancing.
Sep 07, 2015 Jeff rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most beautiful books i've ever read. Raymo is a physics professor who writes like a poet. This is basically a collection of essays about how wondrous the universe is. Wonderfully written, with a liberal sprinkling of literary and poetic quotes. It also has a lot of science, without being scientific. An excellent read for anyone who enjoys going outside at night and looking up.
William Ash
Jun 30, 2013 William Ash rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book. Raymo is the naturalist of the heavens. He weaves the inner and outer worlds of faith and science in a mesmerizing story of the universe as we see it in our night sky. He is able to make the science of astronomy penetrable to the lay person and relate it elegantly to our place in this space. His writing is fluid and poetic.
Greg Simpson
An exquisite look at astronomy through the eyes of a naturalist. These lovely essays on the "soul" of science, most of them dealing directly or glancingly with modern astronomy, are so unique and refreshing, you will be charmed by Chet Raymo's prose and subject.
Jul 11, 2012 Maria rated it really liked it
This was a really lovely book. It had enough science to be educational, while really engendering an awe of the universe and what we have learned and what we still have to learn. It was beautiful.
Lené Gary
Feb 29, 2008 Lené Gary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature
Raymo has a poetic voice I've rarely found in science writing. He creates silence on the page like no one I've ever read.
Jun 16, 2010 Barbara rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It's beautifully written and it evokes a sense of the devine in the heavens.
Feb 16, 2008 Steph rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books ever! Very interesting with a lot of astounding facts and fun stories!
Bill Flanagan
Jul 25, 2014 Bill Flanagan rated it really liked it
Poetic, thought-provoking, fascinating, and potentially life-changing... :)
Jan 20, 2009 Andrea rated it it was amazing
My favorite book...ever.
Apr 11, 2011 Yichen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfic, science
Why I am scared of space.
Sruthy Rani
i like it very much.
Michael Cohen
Apr 08, 2012 Michael Cohen rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
A lovely writer.
Preew Siha
Jul 18, 2008 Preew Siha rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Eternal Astro
I LOVE MY Book...
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Chet Raymo (born September 17, 1936 in Chattanooga, Tennessee) is a noted writer, educator and naturalist. He is Professor Emeritus of Physics at Stonehill College, in Easton, Massachusetts. His weekly newspaper column Science Musings appeared in the Boston Globe for twenty years, and his musings can still be read online at

His most famous book was the novel entitled The Do
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“I am a child of the Milky Way. The night is my mother. I am made of the dust of stars. Every atom in my body was forged in a star. When the universe exploded into being, already the bird longed for the wood and the fish for the pool. When the first galaxies fell into luminous clumps, already matter was struggling toward consciousness. The star clouds of Sagittarius are a burning bush. If there is a voice in Sagittarius, I’d be a fool not to listen. If God’s voice in the night is a scrawny cry, then I’ll prick up my ears. If night’s faint lights fail to knock me off my feet, then I’ll sit back on a dark hillside and wait and watch. A hint here and a trait there. Listening and watching. Waiting, always waiting, for the tingle in the spine.” 7 likes
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