Close (The Infinity Puzzle), a professor of physics at Oxford, recounts his longstanding fascination with eclipses in a volume that blends travel diary and science tutorial. Starting with a 1954 partial eclipse that Close saw as a boy in the English countryside, he leads readers through his journeys to Zambia, Morocco, the South Pacific, and beyond in pursuit of the moon’s shadow. In chapters loosely organized by specific eclipses, Close shares both the fundamentals of such adventures and the science behind this celestial configuration. Through his chummy and conversational vignettes, readers learn about mitigating inclement weather, eye safety, and the upcoming 2017 and 2024 North American eclipses. Diving deeper, Close demonstrates the scientific value of this phenomenon. Ancients and contemporaries alike used eclipses to learn about our planet and our sun, and experts accurately dated Jesus’s crucifixion and other biblical events “thanks to astronomy.” Close’s simple, winding, and occasionally evocative language is tinged with nostalgia, and his readers will see both the humanist and scientific elements involved in the “exquisite alignment of sun, moon, and earth.” Close provides eyewitness account from regular people and personal reflections on seeing totality, convincingly demonstrating that there is nothing better than standing in lunar darkness and feeling “humbled by the ability of science to predict.” (May)
Reviewed on: 02/06/2017 Release date: 03/01/2017 Genre: Nonfiction
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