Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Book 22 - 2017

Book 22: Sun, Moon, Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets by Tyler Nordgren – 226 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
On August 21, 2017, more than ten million Americans will experience an awe-inspiring phenomenon: the first total eclipse of the sun in America in almost forty years. In Sun Moon Earth, astronomer Tyler Nordgren illustrates how this most seemingly unnatural of natural phenomena was transformed from a fearsome omen to a tourist attraction. From the astrologers of ancient China and Babylon to the high priests of the Maya, Sun Moon Earth takes us around the world to show how different cultures interpreted these dramatic events. Greek philosophers discovered eclipses' cause and used them to measure their world and the cosmos beyond. Victorian-era scientists mounted eclipse expeditions during the age of globe-spanning empires. And modern-day physicists continue to use eclipses to confirm Einstein's theory of relativity.Beautifully illustrated and lyrically written, Sun Moon Earth is the ideal guide for all eclipse watchers and star gazers alike.

I happened to be in Oregon just before the eclipse in 2017. Of course, given this event, there was a lot of buzz, which manifested itself in a number of books on eclipses at any science facilities I happened to visit (I’m a science nerd, so needless to say, I often visit science centres and related museums when vacationing). This book seemed the most interesting of all those I came across. I was particularly interested in the discussion of how people have perceived eclipses throughout history. However, this book’s style was a little to dry for my taste. While it does cover the aforementioned topic, as well as the science behind how eclipses work, it doesn’t excite the reader as much as I think this topic should (which is saying something, given I’m a space nerd). Nonetheless, Nordgren does sufficiently cover the beauty and magic of witnessing an eclipse, the challenge chasers face in actually getting to see an eclipse even when in the right place at the right time (due to weather etc), and the wanderlust that such an experience fosters in a person, driving them to seek out subsequent eclipses. A fascinating topic that I feel could have been served a little better with more enthusiastic writing.

22 / 50 books. 44% done!

9352 / 15000 pages. 62% done!

Currently reading:
- Without Remorse
by Tom Clancy – 750 pages
- A Natural History of the Senses
by Diane Ackerman – 315 pages
- The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A guide to spending less while enjoying everything more
by Annie Raser-Rowland with Adam Grubb – 226 pages

And coming up:
- The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder
by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
- The Odyssey
by Homer – 324 pages
- Skinny
by Ibi Kaslik – 244 pages
Tags: science
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