Book Review: Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees by Beth Moon

Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees by Beth Moon is a collection of photographs taken of grand, isolated trees with the backdrop of night skies. Staking out some of the world’s last dark places, photographer Beth Moon uses a digital camera to reveal constellations, nebulae, and the Milky Way, in rich hues that are often too faint to be seen by the naked eye. As in her acclaimed first volume, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time, these magnificent images encounter great arboreal specimens, including baobabs, olive trees, and redwoods, in such places as South Africa, England, and California.

Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees is a wonderful collection of photographs. The trees are isolated and out where light pollution cannot touch the night sky. This means that behind ancient trees we get to witness the expanse of space, with stars and all the glory to be seen in the night sky. The images and essays combine to offer anyone that picks up the book plenty to enjoy, and to contemplate about life, nature, and the environment. The book also includes an artist’s statement, in which Beth Moon describes the experience of shooting at night in these remote places, and an essay by Jana Grcevich, postdoctoral fellow of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History, which provides the perspective of a scientist racing to study the stars in a world growing increasingly brighter. Clark Strand, the author of Waking Up to the Dark: Ancient Wisdom for a Sleepless Age, takes a different tack, illuminating the inherent spirituality of trees.


Ancient Skies, Ancient Trees would make a lovely addition to a art book collection, or a gift for those that love art and nature. The photographs are delightful and inspiring.
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