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Science Meteorology & Climatology


Fire in the Sky

by (author) Dan Bortolotti

by (photographer) Yuichi Takasaka

Firefly Books
Initial publish date
Oct 2011
Meteorology & Climatology
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2018
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Oct 2011
    List Price

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Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.


A celebration of nature's spectacular light shows, and a visual feast documenting the kaleidoscopic colors that decorate the sky.

For millennia, humans have been fascinated with the ghostly green and red curtains of light that shimmer across the heavens on dark, clear nights. Ancient peoples saw these displays as souls of the dead, the torches of the spirits and as harbingers of war. Barely 100 years ago, scientists finally learned that an aurora is created when the Earth's magnetic field is bombarded with charged particles from the sun. When the charged particles collide with oxygen in the atmosphere, auroras with yellows, greens and reds appear. Collisions with nitrogen result in bluish colors. However, our understanding of the physics behind auroras has not detracted from their wonder.

Auroras is filled with 80 photographs of one of nature's greatest spectacles, complete with captions that reflect on the folklore, science and beauty of the northern lights. The book poses and answers the many scientific questions about auroras:

  • Why are auroras usually seen only at high latitudes?
  • How do scientists study them?
  • What causes the different colors?
  • Why are massive auroras often followed by blackouts and computer system crashes?

Auroras is where cutting-edge science meets the stuff of dreams.


About the authors

Dan Bortolotti is the author of five previous books, including Hope in Hell, a portrait of Doctors Without Borders and the Nobel-winning humanitarian aid group.&nbsp He has twice been nominated for the Science in Society Book Award, given by the Canadian Science Writers’ Association.&nbsp His journalism has appeared in more than two dozen publications in North America, including Maclean’s, Saturday Night, and the National Post newspaper.&nbsp Bortolotti lives with his family in Aurora, Ontario, just north of Toronto.

Dan Bortolotti's profile page

Yuichi Takasaka's profile page

Editorial Reviews

The shimmering, swirling, ghostly glowing northern lights are pictured here in multi-faceted glory; ideal if you want to see the Aurora Borealis without braving sub-zero temperatures late at night. This gorgeously produced book offers photos of rare red aurora, Aurora Australis (in the south), views from space and more. Brief front pages to each chapter and short captions under the photos cover history, science and folklore associated with the aurora. And if you are inspired to go out and see the magic for yourself, the last page has advice for you.

Winnipeg Free Press

Bortolotti's well-written text explains the remarkable light spectacle and features over 100 colour-drenched images by noted aurora photographer Yuichi Takasaka.

Halifax Chronicle Herald

Stunning photos from photographer Yuichi Takasaka as well as some from NASA grace the pages of this beautiful coffee table book celebrating the auroras. The book has more photos than text, but what text is there covers a wide variety of topics, from basic descriptions of how auroras form and what determines their coloration to how they are linked with electrical blackouts and how ancient peoples explained the auroras' presence. The text is accessible to any reader, and some of the background and historical information may surprise even those who already know a lot about the mysterious sky lights.

Earth Magazine

Other titles by Dan Bortolotti