Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 57

BOOK REVIEW by S. N. Johnson-Roehr

Totality Changes Everything
SUN MOON EARTH: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets
Tyler Nordgren
Basic Books, 2016
264 pages, ISBN 978-0-465-06092-4
$26.99, hardcover.
ASTRONOMER TYLER NORDGREN

(University of Redlands) has a knack
for connecting people with the sky.
Since 2005, he's been a member of the
National Park Service (NPS) Night-Sky
Team, working with NPS Rangers to
develop educational programs on darksky preservation and astronomy for
park visitors. His first book, Stars Above,
Earth Below: A Guide to Astronomy in
the National Parks, showed readers how
to explore astronomy and planetary
science via familiar and much-loved
landscapes. And, thanks to his whimsical line of "astronomy travel" posters
(tylernordgren.com), inspired by the
aesthetics of New Deal WPA National
Park travel posters, the skies above
look both welcoming and exotic to new
astronomers - a manageable space,
but still one worth visiting. His work
combines to turn our fear of darkness
into a heady anticipation of night-time
wonders.
Nordgren's astronomy outreach has
always stressed friendliness and accessibility, so it comes as no surprise that
his new book, SUN MOON EARTH: The
History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of
Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets is as
entertaining as it is educational. On
August 21, 2017, millions of Americans (and thousands of international
visitors) will have the chance to see
their first total solar eclipse. The path
of totality stretches across the United
States, from Oregon to South Carolina,
making this the most easily viewable
total solar eclipse in most of our lifetimes. Nordgren uses August's event as
a touchstone in this broad-reaching his-

tory of astronomy, meandering across
centuries and cultures, but always coming back to the upcoming eclipse. Total
solar eclipses are magnificent spectacles, but as Nordgren demonstrates,
they're much more than that: throughout human history, we've used them to
evaluate and redefine our place in the
universe. Will 2017's be any different?
There's plenty of science in SUN
MOON EARTH. Nordgren shows how
the Greeks used eclipses to measure the
size of the cosmos, how 19th-century
scientists worked out the Sun's composition thanks in part to observations
made during total solar eclipses, and
how 20th-century astronomers used
a total eclipse to test Einstein's theory
of relativity - all important topics
that reveal how studying the SunMoon-Earth relationship continues
to change our view of the world. But
the real strength of the book is Nordgren's wedding of eclipse science to the

emotional side of totality. Many of us
are self-proclaimed "corona-philes," or
eclipse chasers, watching the calendar
and waiting for our next chance to see
a total solar eclipse. Arguably, it's the
feelings of wonder and awe at totality
that keep us in the hunt, not the science
of Relativity. Yet affect and the cultural practices arising from it are often
dismissed by astronomers, derided as
mere superstition. Nordgren embraces
the emotions unleashed by totality -
uneasiness, euphoria, happiness, fear
- and shows how they push against the
boundaries of knowledge.
SUN MOON EARTH consists of
eight chapters and an introduction.
Each chapter discusses a different
historical problem, but the book as
a whole follows a long narrative arc,
from Nordgren's first (missed) attempt
at total eclipse viewing in 1979, to his
next try in August 2017, and on into
a far distant future. Nordgren clearly
explains eclipse mechanics, providing a good introduction (or refresher
course) for anyone a little hazy on
the relationship between the Sun and
Moon shadows. He also provides a
short guide - including safety tips - to
viewing the upcoming total eclipse. If
you've been trying to get your friends
and family excited about this year's
event, give them this book. They'll
come away from reading it with a good
understanding of the science of eclipses
while undoubtedly being infected by
Nordgren's enthusiasm. And don't
be surprised if they turn into eclipse
chasers, too. As Nordgren points out,
totality changes everything.

¢ Observing Editor S. N. JOHNSONROEHR will be watching the August

2017 total solar eclipse from a front yard
in central Oregon.

s k y a n d t e l e s c o p e .c o m

* FEBRUARY 2017

57


http://www.tylernordgren.com http://www.skyandtelescope.com

Sky and Telescope - February 2017

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sky and Telescope - February 2017

Contents
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - Cover1
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - Cover2
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 1
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - Contents
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 3
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 4
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 5
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 6
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 7
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 8
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 9
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 10
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 11
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 12
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 13
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 14
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 15
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 16
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 17
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 18
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 19
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 20
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 21
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 22
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 23
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 24
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 25
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 26
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 27
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 28
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 29
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 30
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 31
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 32
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 33
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 34
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 35
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 36
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 37
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 38
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 39
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 40
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 41
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 42
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 43
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 44
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 45
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 46
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 47
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 48
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 49
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 50
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 51
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 52
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 53
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 54
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 55
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 56
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 57
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 58
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 59
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 60
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 61
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 62
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 63
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 64
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 65
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 66
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 67
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 68
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 69
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 70
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 71
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 72
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 73
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 74
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 75
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 76
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 77
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 78
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 79
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 80
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 81
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 82
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 83
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - 84
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - Cover3
Sky and Telescope - February 2017 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_202001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201908
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201907
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201906
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201905
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201904
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201903
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201902
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201901
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201812
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201811
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201810
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201808
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201807
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201806
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201805
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201804
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201803
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201802
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201801
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201712
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201711
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201710
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201709
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201707
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201706
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201705
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201704
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201703
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201702
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201701
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201611
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/newtrack/st_201612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201610
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201609
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201608
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201606
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201605
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201604
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201603
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201602
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201601
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201512
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201511
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201510
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201509
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201508
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201507
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201505
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201504
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201503
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201502
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201501
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201412
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201411
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201410
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201409
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201408
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201407
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201406
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_mars
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201404
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201403
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201402
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201401
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201312
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201311
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201310
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201309
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201308
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201307
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201306
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201305
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201303
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201302
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201301
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201212
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201211
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201210
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201209
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201208
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201207
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201206
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201205
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201204
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201202
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201111
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201110
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201109
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201108
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201107
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201106
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201105
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201104
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201103
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201101
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/aas/st_201001
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com