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  • Robert I. X. Jones

Grandeur and Ghastliness, or Writers Look at the Stars

On Friday, April 9th at 7.30pm, I will be giving an online talk with the above title for the Ely Astronomy Club. It will be literary and cultural rather than heavily scientific in nature, around 40 minutes in length and completely free, so do join if at all inclined via the zoom link on the Club's site

In response to several requests for a reading list I am happy to provide the following. I doubt I will refer to all of this directly in the talk and have therefore appropriately starred the most important items.


Peter Ackroyd - First Light *

Isaac Asimov - "Nightfall"*

Arthur C. Clarke - "The Star" *

Thomas Hardy - Far from the Madding Crowd

Two on a Tower*

Robert Heinlein - Double Star

Stanislaw Lem - Fiasco


The Star Diaries*

H. P. Lovecraft - "The Call of Cthulhu"*


Ad Astra (dir. James Gray (2019))

Alien (dir. Ridley Scott (1979))

The Black Hole (dir. Gary Nelson (1979))

Interstellar (dir. Christopher Nolan (2014))*

A Quiet Place (dir. John Krasinski (2018)) *

Star Cops ( UK TV Series, created Chris Boucher (1987))


David Bowie - "Starman"

Olivier Messiaen - Des Canyons aux Etoiles...*


Galileo Galilei - Notebooks

Jo Marchant - The Human Cosmos *

Blaise Pascal - Pensées *

Dava Sobel - Galileo's Daughter

Vincent van Gogh - Letters *

I will also be referring to Van Gogh's late nightscapes - Café Terrace at Night (1888), Starry Night Over the Rhone (1889)*, Starry Night (1889)* and Road with Cypress and Star (1890).


Robert Frost - "Choose Something Like a Star" *

Thomas Hardy - "Drummer Hodge" *

John Keats - "Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art" *

John Milton - Paradise Lost *

Charles Olson - "Ode on Nativity"

Dylan Thomas - ""Do Not Go Gentle Into that Goodnight"

I think that's quite enough. Do please join the meeting on April 9th. The Astronomy Club is a very friendly and unintimidating - though highly informed - group and you will be made most welcome in the Zoom Room.

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