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Library book displays are a struggle. A real hassle, honestly. You want to make them interesting, highlight books in your collection that don’t go out enough, while at the same time having enough books to replace those that are checked out. You also need to have topics of interest. The best displays happen when you can tie them into some great big national event. An election, say, or national holiday. Or how about an astronomical event? Those only come once in a blue moon (pardon the pun) and are certainly worth seeking out.

Today, we celebrate the eclipse on August 21st.  Put away those solar shades and exchange them for a pair of reading glasses. We’re going to look at some recent titles you don’t need to shield your eyes from:

“In the Shadow of the Moon: The Science, Magic, and Mystery of Solar Eclipses” by Anthony Aveni
Astronomer and anthropologist Anthony Aveni explains the history and culture surrounding solar eclipses, from prehistoric Stonehenge, to Babylonian creation myths, to a confirmation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, to a spectacle that left New Yorkers in the moon’s shadow, to future eclipses that will capture human imaginations.

“American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World” by David Baron
On a scorching July afternoon in 1878, at the dawn of the Gilded Age, the moon’s shadow descended on the American West, darkening skies from Montana Territory to Texas. This rare celestial event – a total solar eclipse – offered a priceless opportunity to solve some of the solar system’s most enduring riddles, and it prompted a clutch of enterprising scientists to brave the wild frontier in a grueling race to the Rocky Mountains. Acclaimed science journalist David Baron re-creates this epic tale of ambition, failure, and glory in a narrative that reveals as much about the historical trajectory of a striving young nation as it does about those scant three minutes when the blue sky blackened and stars appeared in mid-afternoon.

“Eclipse: Journeys to the Dark Side of the Moon” by F.E. Close
Mr. Close explains why eclipses happen, reveals their role in history, literature, and myth, and focuses on eclipse chasers, who travel with ecstatic fervor to some of the most inaccessible places on the globe to be present at the moment of totality.

“Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses” by John Dvorak
In Mask of the Sun, acclaimed writer John Dvorak explains the importance of the number 177 and why the ancient Romans thought it was bad to have sexual intercourse during an eclipse (whereas other cultures thought it would be good luck). Even today, pregnant women in Mexico wear safety pins on their underwear during an eclipse. Eclipses are amazing phenomena – unique to Earth – that have provided the key to much of what we now know and understand about the sun, our moon, gravity, and the workings of the universe.