> Skip to content
  • Published: 15 April 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784754389
  • Imprint: Arrow
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $30.00

An Astronomer's Tale

A Bricklayer’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Shepherd’s Life meetsBrian Cox the inspirational memoir of a former brickie who followed his passion for the stars

Soon to be a major ITV TV series.

A Bricklayer's Guide to the Galaxy . . .

The inspirational memoir of a former brickie who followed his passion for the stars and built his own observatory.

Perfect for readers of Robert Macfarlane, Helen Macdonald and James Rebanks - as well as fans of Brian Cox and the BBC’s Sky at Night Gary Fildes left school at sixteen, got a trade like most of his mates and was soon married with four kids. His life seemed set. But he had a secret. Something he only practised late at night with a few like-minded friends. Then one day, middle age approaching alarmingly, he acted on his lifelong passion. He finally came out. As an astronomer.

Today, Gary is the founder and lead astronomer of Kielder Observatory, one of the top ten stargazing sites in the world, which he also helped to build. Situated in the beautiful forests of Kielder, Northumberland, within Europe’s largest protected dark sky park, it offers some of the UK's most spectacular views of stars, planets and galaxies.

An Astronomer’s Tale is Gary’s inspirational story: part memoir, part nature writing, part seasonal guide to the night sky. It is a book brimming with passion; and at a time when the world is captivated by space, it will leave you ready to get out there and explore the wonders of the skies for yourself.

  • Published: 15 April 2017
  • ISBN: 9781784754389
  • Imprint: Arrow
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $30.00

About the author

Gary Fildes

Gary Fildes was born in Sunderland. He is the founder and lead astronomer of Kielder observatory, located in the forests of Northumberland. Among the world’s best sites for watching stars, it receives over 20,000 visitors a year. Gary did not attend university and left school at 17. In 2012 he was given an honorary Master’s degree from Durham University in recognition for his services to astronomy. He is currently leading a multi-million pound fundraising drive to make Kielder the world’s biggest public observatory.

Praise for An Astronomer's Tale

I can heartily recommend this book as an inspiration to all public outreach volunteers as, like Gary, they too reach for the stars

BBC Sky at Night Magazine

The observing tips are honed by years of experience, and Fildes excels at capturing the atmosphere at public observatories and star parties

Physics World

Kielder is a stargazer's paradise

Robert Macfarlane

Move over Brian Cox

Daily Telegraph

Gary’s story reminds us of the old saying that our destiny is not in the stars but in ourselves. He is proof that dreamers from the most unlikely backgrounds can turn their hopes into reality, if they get lucky and work hard... A moving and informative read

Sunday Times

Infectious enthusiasm . . . The Shepherd’s Life meets Brian Cox is the apposite billing for this heavenly memoir of a former Sunderland bricklayer who followed his long-cherished passion for astronomy and founded Kielder Observatory in the forest of Northumberland, now one of the top 10 places for stargazing in the world. He shares his expertise for meteors, galaxies, auroras and his favourite constellations, alternating chapters about his own transit to becoming an astronomer with an accessible, month-by-month guide to the night sky

Bookseller, Editor's Choice

The marvels of the night sky explained . . . a down-to-earth tale of a man who loves astronomy and wants to encourage us all to gaze upwards


Fildes’ plain-speak enthusiasm is infectious and his ambition far-reaching.

Compass Magazine

Related titles