Total solar eclipse fans chase a moment in the sun

Eclipse Solar

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Travelers who have crossed thousands of miles to witness the celestial show will gaze at the sky and, for a few minutes, see a thing most people never get to see: a halo of fire — the sun’s corona — flickering around the edges of the silhouette of the moon.

But Jay Pasachoff, over on Easter Island, may be looking down more than up — calibrating his instruments, checking for technical glitches, peering through lenses. He doesn’t need to look up. He’s seen 28 total eclipses, and 50 eclipses in all.

The Williams College astronomy professor saw his first total eclipse at age 16, when he was a freshman at Harvard. Flying with classmates above the cloud line in a DC-3 just north of Boston in October 1959, he gazed at the spectacle through the double-pane airplane window. “I could see it low in the sky, see it straight out — and it was wonderful,” he said.

He fell in love.

He’s looked up the details on eclipses set to occur in upcoming decades. He has a list of them out to the year 3000.

To some, such single-mindedness might be considered extreme. Not to Tom Thornbury, 68, of Bel-Air, who’s racked up seven total eclipses so far. He recalls dolphins doing back flips in the Sea of Cortez during his first, in 1991. Six years later, as the corona glowed above Mongolia, he proposed to his now wife. Read moreRelated articles by Zemanta

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