Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Eclipse Book Review - American Eclipse

There are a lot of eclipse books suddenly available. Most contain maps and details about the eclipse this summer and I do have some recommendations on that subject. Fred Espenak's books are the best overall. You may have seen his web sites about eclipses, eclipsewise.com and MrEclipse.com are the most popular. Go to Eclipse Wise Publications page to see his books about the eclipse - great information and great maps!

And there are some fun books for nerds.

One I just finished reading is titled American Eclipse by David Baron. I was impressed with the amount of research that went into this book about the eclipse of 1878. Having little to no knowledge of the eclipse other than some referenced in books from that era it was fascinating to follow along as David tells the stories of several eclipse expeditions into the American frontier. The expeditions included some famous names of the day such as Edison who was testing a device to measure heat from stars and the solar corona. A charged political atmosphere of the time is highlighted putting the entire story into a neat perspective that left me feeling like I had experienced the journey myself. I cannot say enough good stuff about the writing style. It was fun. The descriptions of the eclipse were by someone who has been there. I liked the descriptive text and may end up borrowing some of the phrases in future eclipse writings and talks. If anything to add some variety to the descriptions I often use to convey the eclipse experience.

I picked up the book while in a Barnes and Noble book store. The number of astronomy and science books are few and rarely seem to change. I always check to see if anything new showed up any time I am in the store. This book was just published, obviously in time to market for the eclipse this summer. Anyone who likes history is encouraged to take a look at it. It is extremely well researched and written. Plus I found at the end a nice dedication to fellow eclipse chaser Jay Pasachoff who the author claims inspired him to do the project and see more eclipses. Good job Jay!

When I described some of the hardships the chasers in the book encountered to Denise she remarked that I should write up about our adventures in 2002. While we were not cold like some of the campers in Wyoming and Colorado in 1878, we did experience some "discomforts". But that's another story....

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