The Sky Atlas (Book Review)
The Sky Atlas, Edward Brooke Hitching, 2019 Simon & Schuster UK $32.35 (Au) Booktopia (Hardcover) $19.99 (Au) Amazon (E-Book) pp.255 (Hardcover) ISBN-978-1-4711-7893-1 (E-Book) ISBN-978-1-4711-7894-8
Reviewed by William Lamont firstname.lastname@example.org
Edward Brooke Hitching biography:
Edward is a previous bestselling author, a writer for the BBC and elected fellow at the royal geographical society. From London England his passion is for antiquities and foremost maps and books, he has featured in articles in the Washington Post, Guardian and Wall Street Journal to name a few.
Simon & Schuster founded 1924 in New York by Richard Simon and Lincoln Schuster, their first publication was a crossword puzzle book that come with its own pencil and become a huge hit. Arguably their most famous publication was printed in 1974 when they released All the president's men, by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. They now have a worldwide distribution and are currently owned by the parent company, Viacom CBS.
The Sky Atlas is the third instalment in a series of 3 publications by Edward Brook Hitching, that focus on the history of maps chronologically taking you through the history of the books subject at hand. The Golden Atlas delved into the history of how the world came to be viewed via maps. The phantom Atlas how it was thought to be but later proven wrong, now the Sky Atlas shows us the history, myths and philosophical views of the celestial maps in the sky.
The art, pictures and maps within the book have been sourced from a huge collection of contributors, which include the following: The Ashmolean museum University of Oxford, The Tycho Brahe Museum, National museum of Norway, The al Sabah collection Kuwait, The British Library, History of Chinese Science & Culture Foundation, Institute of astronomy Cambridge and Harvard University Library’s.
It is worth acknowledging that this book was certified by FSC (paper from responsible sources) for more information www.fsc.org
Edward makes clear his intention is to create a visual history of the celestial sky, by correlating all of the facets and beliefs throughout history into a single historical continuum. The various periods, cultures and beliefs on creation and there attempts to map the sky and reveal its ever unfolding secrets are a mainstay of the publication. He did have various sub periods in order, but within them I found the book was rather jumbled in regards to ancient and medieval astrology in particular however, the book took on more uniformity as it continued into more modern periods and concentrated on astronomy. Edward believed celestial cartography has been vastly undervalued partly due to its long historical association with astrology, However I believe that like astronomy it was created by astrology and for that the world should be grateful. He insists on imagination as the key to discovery and of course this is without argument as imagination itself is creation, and we are all one within this divine creation of the universe. His understanding of astrology may not be his forte as a few references to Al Kindi and Abu Ma’shar relationship appeared to state Abu Ma’shar use of astrology created tension between them But Alkindi was himself an astrologer and introduced it to Abu Ma’Shar so, this seems unlikely. His use of the words astrologer and astronomer were fluid and interchangeable across some earlier periods where he was clearly talking about astrologers in some cases polymaths. However, this is my critical view as an astrologer and the book is not in its entirety about astrology nor was it focus meant to be. It is however an excellent book of historical meaning for astrologers and is well referenced within its chapters with page references linking to other corresponding and notable parts within the book. The maps and art work have wonderfully referenced notations and are a visual smorgasbord of culturally significant pieces. I don’t believe he was in any way overly sceptical towards astrology or demeaning to it in any way, however parts of the book referenced it as pseudoscience and others with cultural and literature legitimacy in some cases referencing accurate predictions to particular maps within the book.
Overall I highly recommend this book to astrologers, its an easy and light read with nearly half of the 247 pages littered in maps of the stars and artwork and the other half with some great cultural and historical references to astrology that doesn’t gravitate simply to the west, a book I very much enjoyed.
Edward Brook-Hitching (Sky Atlas)
This blog was written by William Lamont Bellingen astrologer Australia in review of the book The Sky Atlas.