A journalist and photojournalist team up to follow a group of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers who travel around the world to observe the sun’s corona in the fleeting moments of a total eclipse.
This entry in the long-running series follows solar physicist Shadia Habbal as she leads her team of “Solar Wind Sherpas” to observe the “Great American Eclipse” of 2017. Loomis begins by recounting two earlier attempts, a failure and a success. Then she introduces both the Syrian American scientist and the astronomical phenomenon and sets the stage in Mitchell, Oregon, in 2017. Backtracking, she describes an earlier scientific breakthrough in Libya in 2006, where the team observed some previously unexpected aspects of the sun’s corona. The last two chapters focus on the nervous hours before the actual eclipse and then the relief when, after a few minutes of totality, when the world has gone dark and their computer-activated cameras have done their jobs, they find they have good images to study until the next opportunity to view the eclipsed sun. The author’s clear explanations help readers understand what this scientific team is looking for and why they choose to do it this way. Interspersed breakout sections, diagrams, and maps add helpful information, including descriptions of two other observation sites. Large, clear photographs show Habbal and her diverse (but mostly white) team at work, their equipment, and the sun in various stages.
Stellar science teamwork in an unusual spotlight. (glossary, selected sources, photo credits, acknowledgments, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)