When the Stars Come Out

When the Stars Come Out
Nicola Edwards and Lucy Cartwright
360 Degrees

With the coming of darkness, everything looks different, everything feels different: night is mysterious, night is magical.

Find out what makes it so in When the Stars Come Out.Into this book the author has packed illuminating information explaining first how night works due to the constant orbiting of the sun by planet Earth, and then putting mankind’s desire to understand the night into a historical context that can be traced right back as far as the Bronze Age.

Thereafter comes an upward-looking section called The Sky at Night. This encompasses topics such as being scared (or not) of the dark and things associated with it;

some facts about the Moon – its cycle, Armstrong’s moon landing and more. Did you know that the largest stars burn for tens of millions of years before running out of energy whereas medium-sized ones including our sun can continue burning for 10 billion years. WOW!

Moving our sights down somewhat, The Earth at Night homes in on different environments – the city, the desert, the Amazonian rainforest, the mountains,

the African savannah where should you happen to visit and listen very carefully, you might just hear the squeaks of yellow-winged bats, the slithering scraping of rock pythons or even the defensive growls of aardwolves. The woodland and the ocean also have spreads allocated.

The next focus is on what animals get up to at night – how are they adapted? Did you know that there are creatures that can sleep on the move, for instance the Swainson’s thrush which power naps frequently, and the albatross? We’ve all heard of sleepwalking but sleep-flying –awesome!

Although many humans spend the night (or most nights) in sleep, or attempted sleep, the length of this depends upon where on the globe you happen to be at a particular time of year; or perhaps whether you are attending an occasional night celebration such as New Year’s Eve.

Like all living creatures, we humans have a body clock, though ours with five sleep cycles, is far more sophisticated that say plankton. I was interested to learn that there is no word for insomnia in the languages of the non-industrial societies – the Hadza people of Tanzania, the San people of Namibia and the Tsimane people of Bolivia whose general pattern of sleep is from three and a half hours after sunset to just before sunrise, with no daytime naps.

Nowadays, those of us living in the Western world tend to choose a single overnight sleep, although some who help keep the night-time economy afloat such as bakers, as well as for instance hospital staff, carers and the police work in shifts and sleep during the day.

Nicola Edwards’ fascinating and wide-ranging interpretation of night is well served by Lucy Cartwright’s enthralling, richly detailed illustrations.

A book to keep readers awake at night should they start exploring it late in the day.

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