A great resource for the upcoming eclipse

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Thursday, June 4, 2015

This review comes from Mike Reynolds, professor of astronomy at Florida State College at Jacksonville. A veteran of 18 total solar eclipses as well as an author of a book about eclipses, Reynolds knows the subject cold.

This new publication by authors Fred Espenak and Jay Anderson provides in-depth information about the upcoming eclipse that will cross the U.S. // courtesy Fred Espenak
As interest builds toward the "great American eclipse," resources will be paramount for successful eclipse chasers. Many will want — even require — detailed information. For those of us who have been chasing total solar eclipses for some while, we fondly remember the U.S. Naval Observatory's Eclipse Circulars and NASA's Eclipse Bulletins. (I still have these on my bookshelf.) With the 2009 retirement of NASA's "Mr. Eclipse," Fred Espenak, funding and publication of NASA's Eclipse Bulletins went the way of the dodo bird.

But all is not lost. Because of the projected popularity of the upcoming event, Espenak and retired Environmental Canada meteorologist Jay Anderson have teamed to write and publish (on demand) Eclipse Bulletin: Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21. The 156-page work contains all of the essential information about the eclipse. It has lots of maps (mostly by the authors, but five are from cartographer Michael Zeiler). Local circumstances tables for more than 1,000 cities across the U.S. provide times of each phase of the eclipse along with the eclipse magnitude, duration, and the Sun's altitude. Additional tables cover the eclipse circumstances for cities in Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, and Europe.

For his part, Anderson covers weather scenarios in depth. Other topics include how the sky will appear at totality, observing tips, photography tips, and a section on eye safety considerations by B. Ralph Chou, professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Finally, the authors offer a 10-page mini-travelogue of just a few of the potential viewing sites along the path of totality.

Eclipse Bulletin: Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21 is available in black and white ($19.99) — as were all of the USNO's Eclipse Circulars and NASA's Eclipse Bulletins — as well as in color ($34.99). And I must add that the color version is well worth the additional cost. The work is beautifully illustrated with a number of Espenak's outstanding eclipse images; this itself justifies the cost. Click here to order.

Espenak has also just written and published Thousand Year Canon of Solar Eclipses (2014), another excellent guide for eclipse chasers.

If you are breathing, you should NOW be making plans to get to the center line of the great American eclipse. Espenak and Anderson's Eclipse Bulletin: Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21 ought to be a part of your planning, regardless if you are leading an expedition or just planning on observing the eclipse by yourself.

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