Edward Brooke Hitching, history-hound, lover of quirky things and writer for the ever-popular and erudite quiz show QI, has written The Sky Atlas. A treasury and history of some of humankind’s most beautiful maps and charts. Yet this book is more than that, it’s a sparkling and glittering array of sky-bound achievements. It’s a visual history of what it has felt like over aeons to look up at the heavens in wonder.
Each page is richly illustrated with expansive manuscripts, quirky star catalogues, antique instruments and historical oddities. Yes there is a lot of research and depth to the writing here too, which is entertaining and enjoyable.
The Sky Atlas is a definitive history of the sky from folklore and mystical origins of weather gods, wizards, daemons, medieval aliens, sky-dwelling dragons and other splendid mythological creatures.
It’s a way to uncover the origins of Tibetan sky burials and glittering and exquisite Inuit dancing coats used in weather rituals. This is the world’s history looking upwards and outwards from early antiquity to today.
I have to admit I found the last third of the book a little boring compared to the first two thirds. That’s simply because of my personal love of ancient and medieval history, and I have comparatively less interest in the development of modern technology in the 20th century until now. However if you are the opposite and love to read about modern technology, then there is something here for space tech boffins to enjoy too.
As a self-confessed Intergalatic Space Māori, The Sky Atlas hit all of the right buttons for me. I think you will like it too. A great coffee table book, reference book or a beautiful gift for lovers of history, art and technology. 5*/5