Sark in the Dark by Ada Blair

Sark in the Dark: Wellbeing and Community on the Dark Sky Island of Sark

Author: Ada Blair

Series: Sophia Centre Master Monographs, Vol. 3

Publisher: Sophia Centre Press 2016

Price: £15.00 Paperback, 210 pp.

ISBN 978-1-907767-42-5




Studies of the beneficial and transformative qualities of encounters with nature typically focus on ‘green’ or grounded nature. In Sark in the Dark, Ada Blair shifts this focus upwards to a refreshing encounter with the richness of the dark night sky. In this book, she documents the research she conducted while at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David into the culture and history of the world’s first designated Dark Sky Island. Through a series of interviews with Sark residents, as well as poignant self-reflections, Blair explores the importance of the dark sky on human wellbeing and community.


Blair recently wrote about the psychology of dark skies for the International Dark Sky Association blog: read the post here.

Praise for Sark in the Dark
‘In this volume Ada Blair explores an important dimension of the dark sky debate. Our relationship with the environment is not just physical, but emotional and imaginative too, and by focusing on the Dark Sky Island of Sark, its people and its stories, we begin to see how individuals and communities might be affected by the presence of cosmic immensities in their everyday lives’. – Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer, Royal Observatory Greenwich


‘This is a very timely book on the topic of Dark Skies and wellbeing; Ada Blair intentionally focusses on how the sky, especially dark skies, within nature positively influences us. The most capturing moment is Blair’s realisation that sky stories are written by all of us, and are not merely a theme of folklore and myths’. – Dr Daniel Brown, Senior Astronomy Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University

Ada Blair holds an MA in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and is an Edinburgh-based psychotherapist and trainer working in higher education, the not-for-profit sector and private practice.

Acknowledgements                                                                                   ix

Forward by Marek Kukula                                                                     xiii

Preface by Nicholas Campion                                                              xvii


Chapter 1

Sark the Island and its Dark Sky                                                              1

The Nature of Islandness                                                                         14

The Journey to Becoming a Dark Sky Community                             21

The Birth of the Sark Astronomy Society (SAstroS)                          28

Shining the Light: Focusing the Research                                           30


Chapter 2

Scanning the Skies: Identifying Themes                                             43

The Human Desire to see the Night Sky                                              43

Commercialisation: Astronomical Tourism                                        53

Heritage and Nostalgia Tourism                                                           62

Fear of the Dark                                                                                        68

The ‘Nature’ of Nature                                                                            75

Nature and Wellbeing                                                                             77


Chapter 3

Sharpening the Focus: Setting up my Research                                 89

Research Strategy                                                                                     89

Gathering the Data                                                                                   95


Chapter 4

Bifocal Vision: My Results and Discussion                                         103

Meaning and Significance:

The Human Desire to Connect with the Night Sky                           104

Community: Observing the Sky with 

others as a means of building and

maintaining family/community connection                                      113

Wellbeing: Experiencing Positive 

Feelings through observing the Night Sky                                         116

Nostalgia: Childhood Memories of the Night Sky                             119

Fear and Fearlessness of the Dark                                                        122

The Dark Sky Movement and Astronomical Tourism                      127

Skyscape and Landscape                                                                        132

Conclusions                                                                                               136


Chapter 5

Images Emerge: Present and Future Perspectives                            139

Reflections                                                                                                139

Possible Areas for Future Research                                                     145

Final Thoughts                                                                                         146


Appendix                                                                                                   149

Bibliography                                                                                             151

Index                                                                                                          169