Parnassus Books is thrilled to welcome David Baron to The Adventure Science Center as he discusses and signs American Eclipse.
To understand eclipse chasers, it helps to be one. In American Eclipse, David Baron travels back in time to profile three outsized personalities hell-bent on making their names at the dawn of American astronomy. The result is a gripping and entertaining account of the frontiers of science set on the literal frontier, and it comes just in time for the first total solar eclipse to traverse the entire continental U.S. in 99 years.
David Baron gives us the gripping tale of a solar eclipse 140 years ago that inspired the country like never before. On a July afternoon in 1878, at the start of the Gilded Age and the height of the Wild West, the moon’s shadow descended on the American frontier, darkening skies from Montana Territory to Texas. This eclipse, which had been predicted by astronomers, lured many of the era’s great scientists to the West in an era of train robberies and Indian hostilities.
Among them were a young Thomas Edison, who hoped to leverage the eclipse to burnish his scientific credentials; the vainglorious James Craig Watson, who sought professional bragging rights for new planets and asteroids; and Vassar astronomer Maria Mitchell, who aimed to use the event to show what women could do in science. An untold tale of ambition, failure, and eventual triumph, the book brings to life the intellectual and technological flowering of late-nineteenth-century America, a period that laid the foundation for the country’s eventual rise to scientific greatness.
David Baron, an award-winning journalist, is a former science correspondent for NPR and former science editor for the public radio program The World. An incurable umbraphile, whose passion for chasing eclipses began in 1998, he lives in Boulder, Colorado.