Cover image for Totality : eclipses of the sun
Totality : eclipses of the sun
Littmann, Mark, 1939-
Personal Author:
Second edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xviii, 268 pages : illustrations (some color), maps ; 25 cm
Subject Term:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Anna M. Reinstein Library QB541 .L69 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Now Oxford University Press is pleased to be publishing a new edition of Totality that has been updated to include current information on the August 1999 eclipse over parts of Europe, Turkey, and Africa, as well as information on other major eclipses of the forthcoming decade. Including thebasics of how and where to view an eclipse--and how to view it safely--this book also presents the history, mythology, solar science, and astrodynamics of eclipses. This new edition also adds Fred Espenak, noted eclipse photographer and Astrophysicist at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, to the teamof authors, and integrates many of his stunning color photographs into this unparalleled exploration of eclipses.

Author Notes

Mark Littmann holds an endowed professorship in science writing and teaches astronomy at the University of Tennessee.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Rationalized beyond awe, we like to think there is nothing particularly wondrous about solar eclipses. Don't tell that to this troika of scientists, who organize the geometry, superstitions, eclipse expeditions, safe-viewing advice, and an almanac of the next two decades' worth of eclipses into a compendium that astronomy enthusiasts will clamor for. Littman et al. revel in the subject and provide a wealth of pertinent, interesting facts. One fact lends urgency to seeing every possible display of the spectacle: the final solar eclipse will take place in 620 million years, as the inexorably receding moon will no longer appear large enough to cover the solar disk. A practical fact urges library acquisition of this title: the eclipse on 11 August 2000 begins at dawn 300 miles off Boston, perhaps tempting vacationers to charter every whale-watching boat possible. But libraries needn't worry about ephemerality: the authors, in addition to the fascinating data, diagrams, and photos they provide, express effectively the awesomeness of the subtly darkening prelude to the dramatically instant onset of totality. A sure star in the astronomy collection. --Gilbert Taylor

Choice Review

Some of the materal in this book is devoted to forecasting the appearance of the July 11, 1991, eclipse and so will soon be outdated, but the book is also one of the best available sources of information on total solar eclipses in general. Topics include the geometry of eclipses, eclipses in mythology, the anatomy of the sun, famous historical eclipses, the scientific uses of eclipses, eclipse photography, and the personal experience of viewing a total eclipse. The important topic of observing safety is covered especially well. There are several interesting short articles by eclipse veterans and a number of wonderful anecdotes. (Thomas Edison traveled to Wyoming to try out a new invention during the eclipse of July 1878, only to be frustrated at the moment of darkness when confused hens returned to the chicken coop where he had installed his telescope.) The drawings and photographs (many in color) are uniformly excellent, and there are extensive tables of data. Highly recommended for all libraries.-T. Barker, Wheaton College (MA)

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
Acknowledgments for Second Editionp. xi
Acknowledgments for First Editionp. xv
1 The Experience of Totalityp. 1
2 The Great Celestial Cover-Upp. 5
3 A Quest to Understandp. 29
4 Eclipses in Mythologyp. 38
5 Strange Behavior of Man and Beastp. 47
6 Anatomy of the Sunp. 54
7 The First Eclipse Expeditionsp. 64
8 The Eclipse That Made Einstein Famousp. 86
9 Modern Scientific Uses for Eclipsesp. 101
10 Observing a Total Eclipsep. 113
11 Observing Safelyp. 137
12 Eclipse Photographyp. 143
13 The Pedigree of an Eclipsep. 164
14 The Eclipse of August 11, 1999p. 175
15 Coming Attractions, 2000-2020p. 190
Appendix A Total and Annular Eclipses: 1999-2052p. 207
Appendix B Recent Total and Annular Eclipses: 1970-1999p. 212
Appendix C Equipment Manufacturers and Retailersp. 215
Appendix D Eclipse and Astronomy Softwarep. 218
Appendix E Internet Resourcesp. 220
Appendix F Popular Astronomy Magazines and Journalsp. 225
Appendix G NASA Solar Eclipse Bulletinsp. 226
Appendix H Chronology of Discoveries about the Sunp. 228
Glossaryp. 239
Notesp. 244
Selected Bibliographyp. 259
Indexp. 263

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