With the 2017 total solar eclipse less than two weeks away, excitement is reaching a fever pitch in Idaho and other places across the country where this stunning celestial event will be visible.
Today, we view eclipses with wonder and anticipation, but that hasn’t always been the case. In ancient times, eclipses were greeted with dread and fear and blamed for deaths, disease outbreaks and disasters. As scientific understanding of eclipses grew, so did interest in experiencing them, with so-called “eclipse chasers” traveling the globe to witness the next spectacular event. Eclipses have spawned myths that are still with us, even as their mystery continues to recede in the bright light of research and discovery.
Today’s guest, John Dvorak, offers a timely and fascinating look at eclipses in his new book, Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses. Dr. Dvorak originally trained as a lunar scientist and spent 20 years operating a large telescope at Mauna Kea for the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii. He has published dozens of papers in scientific journals and has written for several national magazines, including cover stories for Scientific American, Astronomy and Physics Today. His previous books include The Last Volcano and Earthquake Storms.