Throughout human history, the night sky has been a source of inspiration for art, literature, philosophy, and religion. But if you’re like most people living in cities or suburbs or even rural parts of the country, you’ve likely never encountered a truly dark night. Thanks to electric lighting, the nighttime can be as bright as day. And while it’s allowed us to function well into the midnight hour, electric lighting has deprived us of many of the spiritual and physical benefits that only come out in the dark.
My guest today has written a book that explores the decline of darkness in our modern age. His name is Paul Bogard and his book is The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light. Today on the show, Paul and I discuss what true darkness actually looks like and the type of un-dark night most modern folks experience. He then shares the last few spots in America and Europe where you can still experience true darkness and what the sky in those places looks like. We then delve into what we miss out on spiritually by not experiencing true darkness and the health detriments that come with being exposed to artificial light 24 hours a day. Paul also shares some of the common myths about darkness, such as the idea that darkness is more dangerous than light.
This show is going to inspire you to seek out a remote area of wilderness so you can experience the beauty that comes with a truly dark night.
- How Paul Bogard became interested in writing about darkness and light pollution
- Why does darkness have a bad rap? Why are people afraid of it?
- The detriments of too much light at night
- Why light doesn’t actually make you or your home safe at night
- What is “true night”?
- Where in the world can you experience darkness unaffected by light pollution?
- How the night sky changes when there is no light pollution
- The intangible costs of never experiencing a true night sky
- What life was like before electric lighting
- First sleep and second sleep — why our sleeping habits are a new phenomenon
- How light pollution impacts our ecosystems
- The human health detriments of too much light
- How to responsibly use artificial light
- Why Paul went from writing about the night sky, to the ground beneath us
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- 15 Constellations Every Man Should Know (and How to Find Them)
- Think Like a Burglar: When Do Burglars Strike
- The Bortle scale
- Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting
- What Every Man Should Know About Sleep
- 22 Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
- At Day’s Close by A. Roger Ekirch
- How Flagstaff, AZ has curbed light pollution
- Paul Bogard’s new book, The Ground Beneath Us
I highly recommend picking up a copy of The End of Night. It provides some fascinating insights about the benefits of darkness and will inspire you to go on an adventure to seek a truly dark sky.
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Last updated: June 14, 2017