All about darkness at noon

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Tuesday, April 08, 2008

SpringerThe greatest natural occurrence you can witness — bar none — is a total solar eclipse. If one of these spectacular events is in your future, you owe it to yourself to pick up Martin Mobberley’s new book, Total Solar Eclipses and How to Observe Them (Springer, 2007). Mobberley has packed this book with specific information on this topic.

This book comprises two sections. Part 1, “Eclipse Mechanisms, Statistics and Tracks,” contains six chapters. Part 2, “Observing and Traveling to Total Solar Eclipses,” has seven chapters.

In Part 1, the two most important chapters are the first, “Why Do Eclipses Occur?” and the sixth, “Eclipses and Tracks 2008-2028.” Chapter 6 will help plan your vacations for the next 20 years. Even if you’re not an eclipse globe-trotter, you’ll want to read about the total solar eclipses of 2017 and 2024, which will cross a lot of the United States. These two eclipses will offer viewing possibilities for most American amateur astronomers.

In Part 2, Chapter 8, “Eclipse Trips — the Real Experience,” and Chapter 9, “Checklists and Travel Plans” are worthwhile reads for potential eclipse-goers. In Chapter 8, Mobberley relates some of his experiences. You’ll find lots to look forward to — and some things to avoid — during your own trips.

I’ve never photographed an eclipse. But, based on the questions I’ve fielded at Astronomy and during the nine eclipse trips I’ve led, it’s a big deal to most travelers. If you are in this group, you will appreciate Chapter 11, “DSLRs and Digital Eclipse Photography.” Mobberley gives practical advice on all aspects of eclipse photography.

Mobberley has filled 200 pages with information about total solar eclipses, while many books devote only one chapter to all eclipses. The 115 photographs and diagrams make this a must-have book. I know I’ll be reading it several times before I lead my 10th eclipse tour to Novosibirsk, Siberia.

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