Review by Booklist Review
In Mark Twain's fanciful A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, time-traveling nineteenth-century engineer Hank Morgan saves himself from almost certain execution by taking wizardly credit for an imminent solar eclipse. As veteran astronomer Nordgren points out in this fascinating report on the science and folklore of eclipses, Hank's trick played on the superstitious locals of King Arthur's era might not have worked if he'd landed in a later century, since such celestial events have been known about and charted for more than a thousand years. Written in nontechnical and engaging language, Nordgren's appealing work covers the history of man's varied reactions to both solar and lunar eclipses, from the Mayan mention of these phenomena in codices to the current clique of coronaphiles who chase eclipses around the world. He includes captivating photos and useful charts of upcoming eclipses, and stargazers, amateur astronomers, and anyone looking for more information on the solar eclipse due to cross the U.S. in August 2017 will enjoy this enthusiastic and informative guide.--Hays, Carl Copyright 2016 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Nordgren, an astronomer and associate professor of physics at the University of Redlands, lyrically relates the long, fascinating history of the human relationship with eclipses. He begins with examples of how premodern cultures understood and predicted eclipses of the Sun and Moon, pointing out that both the Mayans and the Chaldeans had charts to aid in prediction. Lunar eclipses also helped confirm that the Earth was round and were used to approximate the size of the Earth and the distance to the Sun and Moon. Nordgren sprinkles his history and scientific explanations with delightful comments and personal anecdotes that highlight his joy in his work. He pays special attention to Arthur Eddington's 1919 experiment using an eclipse to prove Einstein's special theory of relativity. Relating a humorous account of the 19th-century "discovery" of the hypothesized planet Vulcan, Nordgren shows how when Eddington proved Einstein correct, Vulcan vanished. That particular eclipse led to profound changes in science, language, and worldview. Nordgren also devotes a chapter to the recent hobby of eclipse chasing, in which he eagerly participates. As Nordgren prepares readers to experience their next eclipses, he presents his material clearly and treats the past with respect. Illus. Agent: Farley Chase, Chase Literary. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
How humans experience eclipses, writes astronomer and physicist Nordgren (Stars Above, Earth Below), lies at "the intersection of fear and calculation, mysticism and science." Nordgren explores that intersection with aplomb, weaving digestible astronomy lessons and helpful illustrations into stories of eclipse appearances throughout history-along with his own travels with fellow "eclipse chasers" around the world. Solar eclipses especially, with their momentary darkness and diamond ring effect, have long been viewed with equal parts fascination and dread. Cataloged by the ancient Egyptians and used for navigation by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, eclipses were even used by 19th-century astronomers to search for the elusive planet Vulcan before Albert Einstein's new theory of relativity rendered it nonexistent. Anticipating the "Great American Eclipse" in August 2017, the author offers tips for viewing and suggested supplies, along with a handy schedule of future events for intrepid readers. The mix of memoir and history is clumsy at times, but the author shares an infectious enthusiasm for the singular yet eerie delight of catching a glimpse of "totality." VERDICT A breezy yet substantive appreciation of a rare and beautiful celestial phenomenon, ideal for astronomy nuts and fans of popular science.-Chad Comello, Morton Grove P.L., IL © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.