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Books About Solar Eclipse


Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses

By John Dvorak


They have been thought of as harbingers of evil as well as a sign of the divine. Eclipses—one of the rarest and most stunning celestial events we can witness here on Earth—have shaped the course of human history and thought since humans first turned their eyes to the sky.


What do Virginia Woolf, the rotation of hurricanes, Babylonian kings and Einstein’s General Theory Relativity all have in common? Eclipses. Always spectacular and, today, precisely predicable, eclipses have allowed us to know when the first Olympic games were played and, long before the first space probe, that the Moon was covered by dust.


Eclipses have stunned, frightened, emboldened and mesmerized people for thousands of years. They were recorded on ancient turtle shells discovered in the Wastes of Yin in China, on clay tablets from Mesopotamia and on the Mayan “Dresden Codex." They are mentioned in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and at least eight times in the Bible. Columbus used them to trick people, while Renaissance painter Taddeo Gaddi was blinded by one. Sorcery was banished within the Catholic Church after astrologers used an eclipse to predict a pope’s death.


In Mask of the Sun , acclaimed writer John Dvorak the importance of the number 177 and why the ancient Romans thought it was bad to have sexual intercourse during an eclipse (whereas other cultures thought it would be good luck). Even today, pregnant women in Mexico wear safety pins on their underwear during an eclipse. Eclipses are an amazing phenomena—unique to Earth—that have provided the key to much of what we now know and understand about the sun, our moon, gravity, and the workings of the universe.


Both entertaining and authoritative, Mask of the Sun reveals the humanism behind the science of both lunar and solar eclipses. With insightful detail and vividly accessible prose, Dvorak provides explanations as to how and why eclipses occur—as well as insight into the forthcoming eclipse of 2017 that will be visible across North America.



America's First Great Eclipse: How Scientists, Tourists, and the Rocky Mountain Eclipse of 1878 Changed Astronomy Forever

By Steve Ruskin


America’s First Great Eclipse takes readers on a thrilling historical journey, revealing that nineteenth-century Americans were just as excited about a total solar eclipse as we are today ... and, like us, were willing to travel thousands of miles to see it. The ‘Great American Eclipse’ of 2017 and the upcoming ‘Great North American Eclipse’ of 2024 were not the first eclipses to deserve such titles. In the summer of 1878, when the American West was still wild, hundreds of astronomers and thousands of tourists traveled by train to Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas to witness America’s first ‘Great Eclipse.’ America’s First Great Eclipse tells the story of a country, and its scientists, on the brink of a new era. Near the end of the nineteenth century, when the United States was barely a hundred years old, American astronomers were taking the lead in a science that Europeans had dominated for centuries. Scientists like Samuel Langley, Henry Draper, Maria Mitchell, and even the inventor Thomas Edison, were putting America at the forefront of what was being called the “new astronomy.” On July 29, 1878, having braved treacherous storms, debilitating altitude sickness, and the threat of Indian attacks, they joined thousands of East-coast tourists and Western pioneers as they spread out across the Great Plains and climbed to the top of 14,000-foot Pikes Peak, all to glimpse one of nature’s grandest a total solar eclipse. It was the first time in history so many astronomers observed together from higher elevations. The Rocky Mountain eclipse of 1878 was not only a turning point in American science, but it was also the beginning of high-altitude astronomy, without which our current understanding of the Universe would be impossible. 


Eclipse: Journeys to the Dark Side of the Moon

By Frank Close.


On August 21st, over one hundred million people will gather across the USA to witness the most-watched total solar eclipse in history. Eclipse: Journeys to the Dark Side of the Moon , by popular science author Frank Close, describes the spellbinding allure of this beautiful natural phenomenon. The book explains why eclipses happen, reveals their role in history, literature and myth, and introduces us to eclipse chasers, who travel with ecstatic fervor to some of the most inaccessible places on the globe. The book also includes the author's quest to solve a 3000-year-old mystery: how did the moon move backward during a total solar eclipse, as claimed in the Book of Joshua?


Eclipse is also the story of how a teacher inspired the author, aged eight, to pursue a career in science and a love affair with eclipses that has taken him to a war zone in the Western Sahara, the South Pacific, and the African bush. The tale comes full circle with another eight-year old boy - the author's grandson - at the 2017 great American eclipse. Readers of all ages will be drawn to this inspirational chronicle of the mesmerizing experience of total solar eclipse.


Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses, from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets

By Tyler Nordgren


One of Amazon's Best Science Books of 2016 


An astronomer traces the natural history of solar eclipses from supernatural to scientific phenomenon, showing us a more wonderful way to look up at the sky 


On August 21, 2017, more than ten million Americans will experience an awe-inspiring phenomenon: the first total eclipse of the sun in America in almost forty years. In Sun Moon Earth, astronomer Tyler Nordgren illustrates how this most seemingly unnatural of natural phenomena was transformed from a fearsome omen to a tourist attraction. From the astrologers of ancient China and Babylon to the high priests of the Maya, Sun Moon Earth takes us around the world to show how different cultures interpreted these dramatic events. Greek philosophers discovered eclipses' cause and used them to measure their world and the cosmos beyond. Victorian-era scientists mounted eclipse expeditions during the age of globe-spanning empires. And modern-day physicists continue to use eclipses to confirm Einstein's theory of relativity.


Beautifully illustrated and lyrically written, Sun Moon Earth is the ideal guide for all eclipse watchers and star gazers alike.


Total Addiction: The Life of an Eclipse Chaser

By Kate Russo

Seeing a total solar eclipse is often described as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, for many who have experienced totality, once-in-a-lifetime is simply not enough. They want more, and are willing to go to great lengths often at great expense to repeat the experience. What is it like to experience totality? What is it about the experience that motivates these eclipse chasers? Is there an eclipse chaser personality? Can eclipse chasing actually be described as an addiction? This book describes the people who dedicate their lives to chasing their dream.


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