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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,347 Ratings  ·  277 Reviews
A deeply panoramic tour of the night, from its brightest spots to the darkest skies we have left.
A starry night is one of nature's most magical wonders. Yet in our artificially lit world, three-quarters of Americans' eyes never switch to night vision and most of us no longer experience true darkness. In THE END OF NIGHT, Paul Bogard restores our awareness of the spectacu
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published July 9th 2013 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2013)
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Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ted by: Brendon

Starry Night Vincent Van Gogh, 1889

4 1/2

The main topic which this book explores is given in its subtitle: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light. So we’re talking about “light pollution” here. That sounds kind of boring, but …

Paul Bogart is assistant professor of English at James Madison University, where he teaches creative nonfiction and environmental literature. “Creative non-fiction” is a genre with its own magazine and web site. Bogart’s writing, and the structure he’
Brendon Schrodinger
Some people go all gooey for puppies, newborn babies and kittens hanging from branches and the thought of any harm coming to these things horrifies them. Some people go gooey over the night sky, our window into eternity and the cosmos. And the thought of not having or losing this window is horrifying. There probably is a bit of overlap in that Venn diagram, but I am firmly on one side.

There were two instances recently where I was struck by the mention of the night sky in what I was reading and
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher through the Goodreads Firstreads giveaway program.

Since I was young I have loved the night sky, gazing up at the lovely stars. Years later when I had the opportunity to be outside in a small village and the Bush of Botswana, I realized that until then I had never seen true night. Not only were these stars of the Southern Hemisphere different, but there were so many more. I was bathed in their glow and I found that I could even s
Jun 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Paul Bogard was not kidding when he warned "this book will open your eyes to the night".

I feel enlightened, I've fallen in love with a lot of quotes in this book. I've lived in the city my whole life NEVER had I seen the stars the way I saw them 2 weeks ago and to be honest, It was rather accidental. I booked a flight to California 2 weeks ago and got the time of departure at 11pm. I was sitting right by the window inside the plane and I was marveled at the beauty of the night sky. There were SO
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Turn out your lights, you don't need them (nearly as much as you think you do).

I am very keen on the ideas in this book. Basically, all the ways that night, true dark, and a clear starry sky are under attack from humanity's terrible lighting practices and light pollution. Most people in the US today have never seen the Milky Way. Most people will probably grow up thinking the sky is supposed to be and has always been a reddish dome. I would think so too if my parents hadn't introduced me to astr
At night, I have learned to notice. Through my little radio, through my time outside, I have learned that the natural sounds of night are solitary, singled out, floating. Sometimes they seem meant only for me.

Stars don't rest at night, neither do I. The kid who is frightened of the monster below his bed or the cop who is worried about the harmful things that might happen, might not like night. But I like night, I like the quietness and luxury of solitude it gifts for reading and watching movies.

Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
When was the last time you stopped to look up at the stars? And if you have looked recently then can you remember how many stars were visible? Unless you are into astronomy then it was probably a while ago, and if you did happen to see some on a clear night then there were probably not as many as you remember. The night sky can be one of the natural world’s most dramatic scenes, and yet this is something that we are not seeing much now because of the advent of brighter lights in towns and cities ...more
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this one more. I have no trouble believing that light pollution has measurable effects on our health and the health of ecosystems across America. Unfortunately, the author doesn't bring the data. Often he'll say that scientific research doesn't yet support a conclusion, and then quote one or two interviews or anecdotes as if this is a substitute for that missing research. He also frequently conflates his poetic love for darkness and the night sky with the serious dangers of ligh ...more
Stefany GG
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, sci-div, usa
Siempre me ha dado tristeza que desde la ciudad no se pueda apreciar la noche tal cual es. Si tienes suerte apenas puedes alcanzar a ver Orión completo. En la ciudad sólo alcanzas a ver decenas de estrellas y con un ojo bien entrenado. ¿Ver nebulosas? ¿La vía láctea? Eso es un lujo para quien pueda irse de viaje lejos de su ciudad sólo para eso, y tienes que alcanzar lugares muy remotos porque la mancha urbana crece cada vez más y con ello la contaminación lumínica.

Bogard nos relata su aventura
May 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was like reading one long news article and that was not good. What was good was the different stance taken on why we should preserve darkness and what we lose if we don’t. This felt like an academic book which only appeals to a certain crowd, but not likely to garner the mainstream into being interested. On the subject of darkness you never get a clear sense of Bogard’s actual concern. Mostly he just misses looking up at a starry sky yet he uses other arguments to validate why darkness is i ...more
Gregory Crouch
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Bogard deploys his literary and persuasive talents to open our eyes to the evils of light pollution, our minds to the perils of bad lighting, and our hearts to the beauty of dark night skies. He succeeds on all counts.

Structuring his book with nine chapters to mirror the gradations of the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale, Bogard takes us on a worst-to-best tour of the North American and European night, starting (where else?) in Las Vegas, in the glare of the forty-billion candlepower lightbeam cast skyward
Peter Mcloughlin
All light is not sweetness and not all dark is not dreadful. The beauty of the milky way arcing across the night sky was a commonwealth to all. Today it is a luxury for those of us lucky to vacation far away from light polluted cities. Light pollution is not commonly tackled as an environmental problem. It is a loss for moderns who live with glowing haze in the sky instead of the bejeweled vistas that once were our birthright. Adding to that, it has negative effects that go beyond upsetting sta ...more
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Paul Bogard wrote this wonderful book on light pollution. From Las Vegas to Paris and Death Valley to Acadia National Park he travels the globe experiencing the darkest and brightest of our world. He is convincing as he demonstrates that our selections of artificial light are an ethical choice. They impact on our neighbors, nocturnal animals, and our view of the night skies. My favorite quote from the book is one Bogard took from Pierre Bruner, "...the presence of an astronomer was the sign of a ...more
May 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was really good. I did have to skip over 100 pages because I just couldn't take all of the personal stories anymore. If you really like reading blogs, it reads like that.

But this book has inspired me to seek out darkness and reevaluate the fear I have been taught in that regard for years. I have always been drawn to the beauty of the stars. The reverence I have felt has not always been understood by everyone I have relayed it to. I had no idea I was missing so much from my suburban ho
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.

Fred Forbes
Jul 25, 2013 rated it liked it
As a young lad of about 10, I remember hanging out with a friend and scanning the sky with a small telescope as we discovered wonder after wonder under the skies in a small New Hampshire town in the 50's. Years later I remember pulling over to the side of the road that heads up to the Grand Canyon, just blown away by the amazing spectacle the stars presented under a truly dark sky. I did not have a repeat of the experience until a nighttime trip during a sailboat crossing from Ft. Lauderdale to ...more
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Just like a relaxed stroll through a beautiful nighttime landscape Bogard's book takes you on a meandering exploration of all the ways we have been disconnected with the night. It is seldom that you find a nonfiction book written with the lyrical language of a novel. Borgard is a gifted writer and a conceptual thinker. His passion for the night and all its beauties is inspiring. He recounts his travels around the world trying to reconnect with night's mysteries and discover how we have lost our ...more
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, science
This is a book about nightlife. Not the Vegas kind. The middle of the desert at night kind. But it covers both. It's a worthwhile read for anyone with some curiosity about the natural world and its dark places, or if you're interested in knowing what things were like before ubiquitous electric light. Equal parts travel, science, and history.

I do wish I could have read this less cynically--I'm a science-degree-havin' librarian dude with subscriptions to National Geographic and Sky and Telescope
Phil Breidenbach
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Paul does an excellent job at telling us how important the night sky is to us and that we shouldn't be afraid of the dark. He never gets "preachy" but he gets across how important these things are to us. He shares his experiences and makes us want to see the things he has seen. If we don't work towards better light control, there is a chance that our children will never see the things we have seen...if we've seen them ourselves!
Read this book, it's very enjoyable. I'll be ordering a copy for our
Oct 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, nature
With the advent of artificial light, the night sky changed forever. A 75 watt light bulb is one hundred times brighter than a candle. And so, as we used lights to extend day in our homes, businesses, and streets, the night grew lighter as well. Today, 80% of people in the United States will never live in an area where they can see the Milky Way. This is not because of geography, but because the lights in our towns and cities are so bright at night that they literally blot out the sky; instead of ...more
Julia Pillard
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I saw this book at the science museum in London back in 2014, and would probably have purchased it then if it weren't for limited space in my bags. However, I found it once more at a little free library near my home, and was delighted at being able to read it.

The End of Night presents a compelling exploration of how human civilization has been lighting up the night significantly for the past one hundred years. Our influence on the night has had unforeseen consequences, not the least of which is
Bob Stocker
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
For years my attitude about light pollution has been something like this: “We humans spend far too little time contemplating our place in the universe. Being able to view the stars is important.” However, I could not imagine writing (or reading) a whole book about light pollution. Thus, I was both an easy and difficult sell. I probably would not have read Paul Bogard's book The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light if had not been a book club selection.

Kate Lawrence
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Most people give no thought to being unable to see the clear night sky due to bright lights everywhere. Paul Bogard has written a thoughtful and thorough account of why darkness is important to wildlife and human well-being, and what can be done to correct the current situation. He travels around the world looking at the night skies, talking to urban lighting experts and dark sky activists. He shows the importance of night skies to cultures throughout history. I realize now that "light pollution ...more
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I cannot recommend this book enough. Everyone should read it so that perhaps we can find a way to give the nights back to our children. My full review is here at 3Quarks Daily

I am with Bogard who ends his beautiful book by remarking how "upside down this world has become where what was once a most common human experience has become most rare. When a child might grow into adulthood without ever seeing the Milky Way and never feel as though lifted from eart
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
How long has it been since you’ve been in the dark? Really in the dark? The majority of people now live in areas where the night sky is never truly dark, thanks to artificial lighting. This book reads like a love letter to the dark and made me want to take my kids somewhere they can really see the stars. My only criticism of this book is the author gives too much detail about his meetings with various people in search of the darkest place on earth—I don’t really care what they had to eat or drin ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In “The End of Light: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light,” Paul Bogart informs readers that most Americans and those living in First World countries rarely experience true outside darkness. What pleasantly surprised me about this 2014 book is that Bogart, a journalist and professor, brings to this subject of light and dark so much information and insight, tying together astronomy, psychology, art, literature, history, economics, philosophy, and observations from his ow ...more
Veronica Dale
Feb 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
There’s a different kind of 1% in the United States, but it has nothing to do with money--although perhaps a lot to do with riches. This 1% is all that remains in our nation who have ever experienced a truly dark night. Most Americans have never seen the grand starry spread of the Milky Way, or the vast, almost frightening, sight of the sky that is our human heritage. Even from the observatory deck of the Empire State Building, the author points out, we can see only 1% of the stars the early col ...more
John Jr.
The stars are going out. If we saw them vanish one by one while we watched (as happens at the end of an SF story), or the nighttime sky simply went black all at once, we’d notice. Probably, if we weren’t alarmed, we’d at least say, “Hey, bring those back—they’re pretty.” But the stars have been leaving more slowly than that, across a span of decades, for people living in or near cities, as the use of artificial lighting has spread. There’s never any point at which we suddenly see that the sky ha ...more
Ellen Trautner
This is a book I really enjoyed reading, I feel passionate about the subject, and will recommend it to others. Usually this means it would get 4 stars from me, but I have to give it 3 mostly because of one chapter that annoyed me.

Overall, I loved Bogard's approach to writing about the dangers of too much light at night. There's the obvious aesthetic reason: you can't see as many stars, and the night sky is awesome! But he made sure to cover a plethora of reasons why light at night is harmful to
Gabriela Kozhuharova
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Необикновена документална книга, написана толкова красиво и пеотично, че няма как да не се възхитиш не само на познанията, но и на очевидната страст, която авторът влага в изследването си. Тъй като нехудожествените книги неизменно ми вървят много по-бавно и трудно от романите, изключително държа онези, към които все пак посягам, да са написани с умение и индивидуалност, да не са толкова сухи, че съвсем да ме обезкуражат. Тази определено се отличава, благодарение на личното, доста емоционално отн ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please combine these books 2 31 Nov 22, 2015 05:35AM  
Nature Literature: The End of Night discussion 71 26 Nov 05, 2015 12:52PM  
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Born and raised in Minnesota, I have lived in Minneapolis, Albuquerque, Reno, northern Wisconsin, Winston-Salem, and now Harrisonburg, Virginia. Ah, the academic life.

I have a wonderful dog named Luna, a Brittany who is nearly 15. Her favorite place to live was Reno. Dog heaven, she says.

Every summer, we leave wherever we are and drive to New Mexico and Nevada to see old friends and walk old walks

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“Most days I live awed by the world we have still, rather than mourning the worlds we have lost. The bandit mask of a cedar waxwing on a bare branch a few feet away; the clear bright sun of a frozen winter noon; the rise of Orion in the eastern evening sky-every day, every night, I give thanks for another chance to notice. I see beauty everywhere; so much beauty I often speak it aloud. So much beauty I often laugh, and my day is made.
Still if you wanted to, I think, you could feel sadness without end. I’m not even talking about hungry children or domestic violence or endless wars between supposedly grown men…but ‘you mustn’t be frightened if a sadness rises in front of you, larger than any you even seen,' said Rilke, 'you must realize that something is happening to you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in it hand and will not let you fall.”
“I had travelled from Spain into Morocco and from there south to the Atlas Mountains, at the edge of the Sahara Desert…one night, in a youth hostel that was more like a stable, I woke and walked out into a snowstorm. But it wasn’t the snow I was used to in Minnesota, or anywhere else I had been. Standing bare chest to cool night, wearing flip-flops and shorts, I let a storm of stars swirl around me. I remember no light pollution, heck, I remember no lights. But I remember the light around me-the sense of being lit by starlight- and that I could see the ground to which the stars seemed to be floating down. I saw the sky that night in three dimensions- the sky had depth, some stars seemingly close and some much farther away, the Milky Way so well defined it had what astronomers call “structure”, that sense of its twisting depths. I remember stars from one horizon to another, making a night sky so plush it still seems like a dream.
It was a time in my life when I was every day experiencing something new. I felt open to everything, as though I was made of clay, and the world was imprinting on me its breathtaking beauty (and terrible reality.) Standing nearly naked under that Moroccan sky, skin against the air, the dark, the stars, the night pressed its impression, and my lifelong connection was sealed.”
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