A solar eclipse is an unforgettable event that lures fans of science, astronomy, and nature from around the world to locations where they can properly experience the phenomenon first-hand. Eclipse chasers are the most devoted of these fans, spending considerable resources ensuring that they can be in the right place at the right time to experience solar eclipses –– taking them around the world and back again to do so.
As of 2020, Jay Pasachoff, Glenn Schneider, and John Beattie have each seen 34 total solar eclipses. This means that the three men are tied for the world record! But what drives them to witness these eclipses time and time again? Let’s find out!
Glenn Schneider is self-described “umbraphile,” which means that when it comes to basking in the shadow of the moon, he simply can’t get enough. Dr. Schneider, an Astronomer at the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona, specializes in the study of extrasolar planetary systems and pursues scientific research on everything from galactic astronomy to star formation.
Schneider experienced his first total solar eclipse in 1970, and has continued to chase the wondrous events wherever they may occur ever since. Schneider maintains a log of his eclipse experiences, with photographs, location information, and other data points.
Approximately every 16 months, Schneider makes the journey to the path of totality for the next total solar eclipse to fulfill his destiny as an umbraphile –– a journey that never gets old. As of this writing, Schneider boasts a total of 1 hour, 50 minutes, and 50.2 seconds under the lunar umbral shadow.
Jay Pasachoff describes the feeling of experiencing a total solar eclipse, “like going to the seventh game of the World Series with the score tied in the ninth inning."
As the Chair of the Astronomy department and the Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College in Massachusetts, his passion is well known among eclipse chasers and the broader astronomy field. Pasachoff has been recognized for his scientific study of eclipses and for his efforts to emphasize the value of continuing to study these rare celestial events.
Recently, Pasachoff was awarded the 2019 Klumpke-Roberts Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. When being presented with the award, it was noted that during solar eclipses, Pasachoff becomes the “cheerleader-in-chief” for the field of astronomy and his enthusiasm helps others understand and appreciate the wonder of eclipses.
Over the course of his long and successful career, Pasachoff has had his research sponsored by NASA, the National Science Foundation, and National Geographic Society. But his interest in solar eclipses extends beyond the scientific study of the stars above; Pasachoff has worked with art history expert Roberta Olson to study images of eclipses and other astronomical events in paintings from the Renaissance and other historical periods. In 2014, he reviewed the astronomy-themed opera, Prince Igor, staged at the New York Metropolitan Opera.
In 2003, Pasachoff was awarded the Education Prize of the American Astronomical Society, which commended his tremendous abilities as a teacher and professor, his writings and publications, and his advocacy on behalf of the scientific community and the field of astronomy in particular. Once again, Pasachoff’s passion “for sharing with the world the joys of observing eclipses,” was also specifically noted.
Where Schneider and Pasachoff devote their careers to the field of astronomy, John Beattie is a bit of an outlier when it comes to famous eclipse chasers. A proofreader in Manhattan, Beattie avoids the spotlight when it comes to talking about his fascination with solar eclipses. According to Schneider –– the three men know one another well -–– Beattie is an enthusiastic, even extroverted, eclipse chaser. However, he doesn’t particularly like press attention and prefers to remain a “private person.”
Beattie’s enthusiasm may be summed up by his plans for the August 2017 solar eclipse which occurred in North America: Schneider reported that Beattie wanted to experience the eclipse near at an airport that was within the path of totality; if bad weather was going to potentially affect his experience, he could quickly hop on a plane and fly somewhere else within the path where he could witness the eclipse from the sky.
Become an Eclipse Chaser
At Rainbow Symphony, our mission is to encourage the next generation of eclipse chasers by serving as an educational resource and an eclipse gear supplier. We want to be your destination for all things solar eclipse, including articles and insights on when and where to experience an eclipse, and how to observe eclipses safely.
Explore our blog for more information about total solar eclipses, and check out our entire selection of eclipse gear to ensure that you’re ready for the next big event! For questions, contact us by phone today at 818-708-8400 or firstname.lastname@example.org