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Guy Ottewell


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The Under-Standing of Eclipses

Enlarged edition, with emphasis on the American eclipse of August 2017

This book starts with a careful explanation of the groundwork — the motions of Earth, Moon, and Sun that cause eclipses — in order to lead up to the sublimity of the experience. There are double-page spreads for examples of the kinds of eclipse—

    A lunar eclipse
    A partial solar eclipse
    An annular eclipse
    A broken-ring eclipse (1984 May, southeastern U.S.A.)
    An annular-total eclipse
    A globe-skimming eclipse
    A geometrically tight eclipse (2015 March, ending at the north pole)
    A high-latitude eclipse
    An ideal eclipse (1991 July, Hawaii and Mexico)

The central section is a complete description of the eclipses of 2017: two lunar, two solar, climaxing with the August 21 total solar eclipse that will sweep from Oregon to South Carolina (as shown on the book's cover).

Some of the features:

Large globe pictures, and many other illustrations
A deep exploration of the "saros" and other intricate patterns woven by eclipses across spans of time
"Flick movies" of an annular eclipse and a total eclipse along the tops of the pages
Eclipse stories (about 40)

8½ x 11 in., 96 pages, many illustrations. 1991; 2nd edition 1991; 3rd edition 2004; 4th edition 2013; 5th edition 2016. ISBN 978-0-934546-74-4.

"If you can get to the eclipse path . . . this brief book will be well worth carrying. If you stay at home, follow the score here to grasp these harmonious but silent rhythms" —Scientific American

"Not since Richard A. Proctor of the last century has there been an author so attuned to the numerous geometrical nuances of the celestial clockwork" —Sky & Telescope

"What a wonderful book for teaching purposes! I don't think I've ever seen a book on eclipses that even approaches its usefulness" —Dan Green, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory



6 Beginning
7 Hidings and shadings
8 Umbra and penumbra
10 Eclipses of the Sun and Moon
12 Lunar eclipses
14 Solar eclipses
16 A closer look at classification
18 The occurrence of eclipses; eclipse seasons
22 Phenomena of a solar eclipse: the partial phases
24 The brink of totality
26 Totality The central spectacle
27 Sky and landscape around
28 A lunar eclipse: 1989 August 16/17
30 A partial solar eclipse: 1989 March 7 (Alaska)
32 An annular eclipse: 1994 May 10 (cross-U.S.)
34 A broken-ring eclipse: 1984 May 30 (Greenville)
36 An annular-total eclipse: 1987 March 29 (Gabon)
38 A globe-skimming eclipse: 1986 October 3 (Iceland)
40 A geometrically tight eclipse: 2015 March 20 (to the north pole)
42 A high-latitude total eclipse: 1990 July 22 (Finland)
44 An ideal eclipse: 1991 July 11 (Hawaii and Mexico)
48 Further aspects of the 1991 eclipse
50 Eclipses of 2017
54 A cross-American total eclipse: 2017 August 21
60 The saros
64 Saros series and their evolution
66 Numbering the saros
69 Example: saros series 136
73 Pattern of eclipses--the "Bead Curtain" chart (1901-2116)
90 The Metonic cycle
91 Eclipse stories
96 The statistics of eclipses
98 Census of the saros series
99 Eclipses to come
106 Tables of eclipses
110 Some eclipse quantities
111 To find out more
112 Index



Part of the 12-page "bead curtain" chart of 980 eclipses:

Day turns into night