Starlight Nights

Brian Jones - 1478bA Journey Through the Night Sky with Brian Jones

At around the age of five I was allowed to look through my father’s binoculars for the first time and I happened to point them at the stars. This started me off on my journey of discovery of the night sky and all things relating to it. I attended the local junior school, followed by five years (1964-1969) at Bradford Grammar School before leaving to commence a career as an engineering technician. Those binoculars stood me in good stead throughout (indeed, I still have them) until after I left school, started work and purchased my first telescope at the age of seventeen.

My continuing interest in astronomy took me into the realms of writing monthly night sky guides for local newspapers and appearing on local radio and television talking about all things astronomical. This took me through to the mid 1980s at which point I became a full time astronomy and space writer. The radio and television work continued and I eventually make a series of appearances on the children’s TV-am programme Wide Awake, pointing out and describing some of the excellent things that could be seen in the night sky at the time.

In 1975 a work colleague and myself formed an astronomical society at the engineering company where we worked. This later evolved into the Bradford Astronomical Society, and I was Secretary of the Society for around 15 years. In addition, during the 1980s I held the posts of Publications Secretary for the Federation of Astronomical Societies and News Circular Editor for the Junior Astronomical Society.

From 1995 to 2005 my career took me into genealogical research as well as, amongst other things, running the on-line book shop Tucana Books, which is still in operation. However I am now once more working as a freelance writer on astronomy and space, my regular work including the compilation of a night sky blog for the Ramblers Association.

I have written a total of eighteen books, as well as being co-author and contributor to many others.  A number of the books I have written were for children and include First Facts – Our World and First Facts – Space (Henderson Publishing) both from the Junior Fun-Fax series; A Look Into Space (Henderson Publishing) from the Fun-Fax series; Space Exploration (Belitha Press) from the Belitha Information Library series; and Space (Belitha Press) from the My First Reference Library series. The last two titles have been published in many languages.

Amongst the books written for an older readership are The Practical Astronomer (Quarto Publishing) and An Introduction to Practical Astronomy (The Apple Press), both being guides to practical astronomy for amateur stargazers.

The book for which I hold most affection is The Skywatcher’s Handbook which appeared in 1985 and for which I was one of three contributors.  This was published shortly before I became a full time writer, and it was the sense of achievement I felt for this, together with the encouragement I was given, that were the main inspiration behind my change of career from engineering to one where I have the opportunity to describe the Universe to anyone who shares my fascination!

If you’d like to find out more, check out my CV

Apart from astronomy, I am a keen collector of crystals and minerals (chunks of our planet, you might say), books (which explains Tucana Books), pre-decimal English coins (this ties in with my love of history) and Australian stamps.  In addition, I’m passionate about the environment and its preservation and I enjoy spending time outdoors, either gardening or walking. My walks generally take in the towpaths that grace the local canal network, although the odd mountain or two have contributed to the wear and tear of my walking boots!