Tales of a Starry Night – 2020

On this page, you will find the links to the 2020 episodes of Tales of a Starry Night, , with accompanying notes. The links below take you to my SounCloud page, but the podcast is also available on Spotify and Apple podcasts.

Please note:

  • These podcast are for all ages, but please be aware that some stories and myths involve more adult themes – Zeus’s famous infidelities are an example. Parents are encouraged to have a first listen before sharing with children.
  • In this podcast, I consider what different people have seen in the night sky, and so tell stories from non European cultures. I always do so with full respect and gratitude, but please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any comments.

Pour la version française de cette page et des podcasts, voir Récits d’une nuit étoilée.

Episode 1 : An introduction to the Milky Way

Tales & Shapes · Episode 1, An introduction to the Milky Way


Beyond the internet, as a starting point for stories, I consult Beyond the Blue Horizon by E.C. Krupp (Harper & Collins, 1991) and look for further sources. Mentioned in the podcast are Sidereus Nuncius published by Galileo’s 1610, I consulted a translation by  (University of Chicago Press, 1989), and Star Lore of All Ages by William Tyler Olcott (The Knickerbrocker Press, 1991). On the Great Emu in the Sky, I recommend reading this article by Wiradjuri Woman and astronomer Kirsten Banks.

A close up of the Coalsack Nebula. Image by ESO

Published 24/06/2020

Episode 2 : The Moon

Tales & Shapes · Episode 2, Tales of the Moon


The article by Megan Garber from The Atlantic, March 2013 can be found here. It makes reference to an article in Low Tech Magazine by Kris De Decker (edited by Vincent Grosjean) accessible here.

Full Moon. Credit: NASA/ Sean Smith

Published 28/07/2020

Episode 3 : The summer triangle

Tales & Shapes · Episode 3, The summer triangle


The main source used for the Greek myths was Metamorphoses, a poem composed by the Roman poet Ovid (43BC-17/17AD). The story of Hermes and the lyre comes from The Homeric Hymns, poems composed in the same style as the Illiad and Odyssey probably for most in the 7th or 6th centuries BC. For astronomical information, I refer to the third edition of the Collins Pocket Guide to Stars & Planets by Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion (2000). Ian Ridpath’s own website is a great starting point on star lore, as is New Patterns in the Sky by Julius Staal (Mc Donalds & Woodland 1988).

Cygnus & Lyra from J. Hevelius’ Uranographia (1690). Wikimedia Commons

Published 21st August 2020.

Episode 4 : Venus

Tales & Shapes · Episode 4, Venus

VenusFireRing_Lawrence_960Venus at inferior conjunction on June, 6th 2020.
Image credit & copyright: Pete Lawrence/ Digital Sky


I discovered the Australian myth of Barnumbir on a webpage from the Canadian Virtual Museum (in French). For the myth of Innana’s desent to the Underworld, I used the translation from the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Litterature based at Oxford University, UK. For the extract of Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, I read the translation from the Perseus Digital Library. The Bible extracts are read from the King James version. The Nature Astronomy article announcing the discovery of phospine in Venus’s atmosphere can be found here. I would certainly recommend listening to this 1990 keynote speech by Carl Sagan, mentioning lessons to be learned from the greenhouse effect on Venus, his words are all the more relevant today.

1024px-Seal_of_Inanna,_2350-2150_BCEInnana/ Ishtar & Ninshubur, from an Akkadian cylinder seal (around 2334-2154 BC). Wikimedia Commons

Published 29th October 2020.

Episode 5 : The Winter Solstice

Tales & Shapes · Episode 5, The Winter Solstice


I first found the myth of Baal & Mot in Winter’s Tales by Lari Don (2013), then looked at a translation of the clay tablets from Ugarit in Canaanite Myths & Legends by J.C.L. Gibbon (1978). Many astronomy magazines and newspapers mention the Great Conjunction of 2020, for example, this article in Astromony Magazine.

Published 19th December 2020.