David Baron on the Other Eclipse That Enlightened America

This past August wasn’t the first time the world raced to see a solar eclipse roll over the United States. In 1878, a total solar eclipse passed over the western half of the country, with an arguably larger effect. David Baron, a former NRP science correspondent who has spent five years studying that eclipse, says that, on July 29, 1878, many influential individuals and scientists, including Vassar College astronomer Maria Mitchel, an all-female expedition, and Thomas Edison, came to observe the astronomical wonder gained insight and inspiration from the eclipse that year. Mr. Baron will speak on this eclipse and its effects on October 26 at 11 am in the Education in Zion Auditorium (B192 JFSB).

rodion-kutsaev-48565“The eclipse of 1878 was really important because it came at a time when America was just trying to prove to the rest of the world that it was not just some industrial power but that it actually was an intellectual nation,” shared Baron in an NPR interview earlier this year. “This was our chance – an eclipse in our own backyard – to show what we could do in science.” Since that time, the United States has continued to show that it can accomplish many incredible scientific feats, starting with the invention of the Edison light bulb the year following the eclipse. 

charles reddDavid Baron is a former NPR science correspondent and the author of American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World. His last book, The Beast in the Garden, won the 2003 Colorado Book Award. This event will be hosted by the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies and is free to the public.


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