David Baron

Speech Topics

On August 21, 2017, the United States will enjoy a rare celestial treat, a total eclipse of the sun—the first in 99 years to cross the country from coast to coast. In order to witness this natural wonder, you must place yourself within a 70-mile-wide band—the path of totality—that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. Veteran eclipse chaser David Baron offers advice on where to go and how to view the event, and he explains why you must stand in the fleeting shadow of the moon, for it is only there that the sun and solar system will reveal themselves in a dazzling, not-to-be-missed spectacle.

On July 29, 1878, at the dawn of the Gilded Age and the height of the Wild West, a total solar eclipse crossed America’s western frontier. The astronomical event lured many of the era’s great scientists to Wyoming and Colorado because it offered a rare opportunity to solve longstanding riddles of the sun and solar system. Based on original research for his acclaimed book American Eclipse, David Baron tells the story of this influential event in American science and of some remarkable people who witnessed it. Among the prominent eclipse chasers in 1878 were Vassar astronomer Maria Mitchell, who headed an all-female expedition to Denver to show what women could do in science, and a young Thomas Edison, who after observing the eclipse soon lit the world with his most famous invention.


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David Baron is a journalist, author, and broadcaster who has spent his thirty-year career largely in public radio. He has worked as a science correspondent for NPR and Boston’s WBUR, and as health and science editor for the PRI/BBC program The World.

In the course of his reporting, David has visited every continent and earned some of the top honors in journalism. These include the Lowell Thomas Award from the Overseas Press Club of America, the Alfred I. duPont Award from Columbia University, the National Academies Communications Award, and, on three occasions, the annual journalism prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. David’s written work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Outside, Lonely Planet, and Reader’s Digest. His 2003 book, The Beast in the Garden, received the Colorado Book Award.

David’s book, American Eclipse (2017), arose from his own eccentric passion. An avid eclipse chaser, David has crossed the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia to stand in the moon’s shadow and witness nature’s grandest spectacle: a total eclipse of the sun.

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