From Popular Astronomy October-December 2003

‘a real flavour of elementary astronomical education’

Star Talks to Boy Scouts
By George Forbes Publisher: The Observatory Press ISBN: 0-9544436-0-8
Paperback, 26pp I Price: £4

This short booklet is a reproduction of a 1911 publication which appeared in response to a call for basic astronomical skills needed for the Scouts’ ‘Starman’ badge. The author was an innovative electrical engineer who, rather ironically, was once manager of the British Electric Light Company. He was also an astronomer who produced several books and had a private observatory at Pitlochry.

Although naturally preoccupied with aspects of the sky relevant to scouting-how to find your direction from the position of the Sun, telling the time by the Sun and stars, gravitation and tide, etc-the booklet is still valid as a general introduction to naked-eye astronomy. The publisher points out that original spellings and punctuation have been retained in order to remain faithful to the original. and advice such as the wisdom of knowing the age of the Moon in order to determine whether one would be walking home in the dark or not, further emphasize this feel. The final three pages contain a short biography of Forbes.
Other more useful introductions to the sky are available to today's scouts, but to make this observation is to miss the point of this reissue, which gives a real flavour of elementary astronomical education of the time and, in a small way, draws attention to a neglected figure of Victorian and Edwardian science.
Paul Stephens

Return to: