There’s a solar eclipse coming in August 2017, and as a citizen of this great planet, it’s your duty to try and see it if you live anywhere near its path. But if you can’t (don’t worry—there’s another one coming in 2024), or if you want to know more about eclipses and why they’re such a big deal before you start making plans (or as you’re waiting for the big event), authors and publishers have you covered. There’s been a glut of books about eclipses releasing (or soon to be released), and we’ve got a round-up of what’s coming out so you can pick which one(s) you want to read before August 21.
Lead photo by Pixabay
Swapna Krishna is a freelance writer, editor and giant space/sci-fi geek.
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Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets - Tyler Nordgren
What did ancient cultures think of eclipses? That's what astronomer Tyler Nordgren discusses in his book Sun Moon Earth. It's a lyrical journey through the history of solar eclipses. It's not a comprehensive history; instead, it serves as a sort of "greatest hits" of interesting facts and stories surrounding the lore and culture of solar eclipses. Nordgren is a talented writer, and this book beautifully illustrates the current obsession with total eclipses, telling stories of eclipse hunters and chasers, foreshadowing what is to come in August.
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Mask of the Sun: The Science, History, and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses - John Dvorak
John Dvorak spent 20 years as the operator of a telescope on Mauna Kea for the University of Hawaii. He's a lunar scientist by training and is an acclaimed science writer, so when he writes a book on eclipses, you know it's worth paying attention to. This is a pop culture history that delves into the science of total eclipses as much as it does the strange traditions and superstitions that arose over centuries around eclipses. So much of what we know about ourselves, where we come from, and our place in the universe derives from eclipses, and this book highlights that fact.
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Totality: The Great American Eclipses of 2017 and 2024 - Mark Littmann and Fred Espenak
This book isn't so much a history of eclipses as a guide to what's coming in August of this year, and again in April of 2024. Those of us in the United States are lucky enough to have two full solar eclipses within a decade cross over the continental U.S.—what will it be like? How can we safely experience it? What should we plan for? This book will answer all those questions and more, with gorgeous full-color photographs and scientific explanations to help you understand what is happening and why.
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American Eclipse: A Nation's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World - David Baron
It seems like we're consumed by eclipse fever in advance of the 2017 eclipse, but it's not the first time that's happened. David Baron's American Eclipse chronicles events around the total eclipse that happened in 1878 that stretched from Montana to Texas. In the shadow of this eclipse (heh), three eclipse chasers—James Craig Watson, Maria Mitchell, and Thomas Edison—raced to the Rocky Mountains to document the events and cement their names in history. It's as much an adventure story as it is a story of the history of astronomy and of the end of the United States' Wild West period.
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In the Shadow of the Moon: The Science, Magic, and Mystery of Solar Eclipses - Anthony Aveni
What role have eclipses played throughout human history? How have they molded and changed our cultures and societies? Are they still affecting us now? These are the big questions that Anthony Aveni, an award-winning writer, tackles in In the Shadow of the Moon. Bringing together a mix of history, culture, and science, this book discusses the significance of eclipses from the ancient world to the present, adding in Aveni's own experiences seeing eight different total solar eclipses.
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Total Solar Eclipse 2017: Your Guide to the Next Eclipse - Marc Nussbaum
If you're specifically interested in where and how to see the 2017 eclipse (and if you haven't made plans already, you really really really need to get on that right away), this book is the perfect companion. It contains maps, guides, instructions on how to view it safely (seriously, get a pair of eclipse glasses. Don't leave home without them), how to get the best pictures from your camera or smartphone, and simple scientific explanations for what you'll be seeing and why. If you like to be prepared, Total Solar Eclipse 2017 is what you need.
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Eclipse: Journeys to the Dark Side of the Moon - Frank Close
This is as much a memoir of eclipses as it in as investigation of the role of eclipses in our history. Frank Close was inspired to pursue a science career at a young age, and quickly became obsessed with eclipses. He's traveled around the world, to war-torn countries and the most remote areas of the world, in order to bear witness to one of the most breathtaking natural phenomenons there is. Now, as he recounts in Eclipse, Close is eager to share his passion for eclipses with another young boy—his grandson.
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Eclipse: History. Science. Awe. - Bryan Brewer
This is a classic book about eclipses, written in preparation for the total solar eclipse of 1979 visible in the Pacific Northwest and Canada, and it has been updated in advance of the 2017 eclipse. Brewer combines technical scientific details about the eclipse with history and mythology, helping put these grand events into context. If you're looking for a book about the eclipse that can double as a coffee table book, this is your best bet.