Back in 2011 when I was looking for a platform to record my interviews for my first book “Total Addiction”, I stumbled across Zoom. I took the leap from Skype and started to use it exclusively after finding it reliable, easy, and versatile. I was an early adopter and encouraged many people to use it.
Fast forward to 2022. Who knew that Zoom would become so embedded within our work-from-home pandemic lifestyle that ‘zoom fatigue’ would become a thing?
Zoom has allowed me to continue with my international focus despite moving country and then being in country lockdown for two years. Daily Zoom check-ins, weekly Zoom meetings, virtual Zoom conferences, and Zoom workshops have enabled my eclipse work activities to continue with minimal impact. Being a member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Solar Eclipse Task Force while located in Australia hasn’t been an issue thanks to Zoom. (Ok, coffee has also played an important role here too for those 4 am Zoom sessions, to be fair). And despite significant COVID impacts over the past few years, the AAS eclipse planning workshops have continued virtually via Zoom.
However, I miss the joy, interactions, and networking of real-life events. Life is about the people you meet, the deep conversations. The laughs. Finding new ways of thinking about things, sharing experiences, and developing partnerships. I really miss those times. I miss being in the shadow, and I miss being part of our wonderful community.
This is why I’ve made the decision to attend the next AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force eclipse planning workshop in person. Real life. In the flesh. En persona. It has been so long since I have flown internationally that my passport had expired and it took me TWO YEARS to decide to renew it.
So, in October, I will be putting my shiny new passport to use and will fly to the US to take part in the next eclipse planning workshop with our hosts in Rochester, New York. I am SO looking forward to connecting with my eclipse-chasing community, eclipse planning colleagues and those in communities who are preparing for the solar eclipses of 2023 and 2024 in North America. We will share knowledge, experience, encouragement, and resources with those attending in person and via Zoom for this hybrid event.
If you are—or would like to be—an eclipse chaser, prepare yourself for a choice of FIVE total solar eclipses in Australia over the next 16 years.
A total solar eclipse will be visible from mainland Australia in 2023, 2028, 2030, 2037, and 2038. With an estimated two in every three Australians living near the capital cities, and each Australian city giving easy access to at least one of these eclipses, most Aussies are likely to get the chance to experience totality. That’s exciting!
Australia is a massive continent and there is plenty of room to spread out along the path of totality for every eclipse, except in 2023. Here’s a quick breakdown of the eclipse quintet to come.
20 Apr 2023. Northwest Cape, WA. Max 1min 16sec
With such limited land options, visitors to the ‘Ningaloo Eclipse‘ will concentrate in the North West Cape area of Exmouth. Viewing options include the stunning World Heritage-listed Ningaloo coastline and Cape Range National Park in Western Australia (WA). Those wanting to escape the crowds are likely to head further north to Onslow and access the path of totality by boat. The iconic Australian totality experience for this eclipse is likely to be from a beach location.
22 Jul 2028. Durack, WA; Tennant Creek, NT; Thargomindah, QLD; Sydney, NSW. Max 5min 10sec
This one is definitely not to be missed with such a long duration of totality! By far the biggest crowds of people experiencing totality will be the 5.3 million lucky Sydney-siders who just have to look up. Eclipse chasers are likely to focus on the areas giving maximum time during totality in WA, and across the glorious Northern Territory (NT) and Queensland (QLD) outback. This is the ideal time of year for an extended outback adventure. The iconic Australian totality experience is likely to be near the Sydney Harbour, although the Karlu Karlu (Devil’s marbles) in the NT will provide the iconic outback setting.
25 Nov 2030. Streaky Bay, SA; Packsaddle, NSW; Miles, QLD. Max 3min 44sec
With no major cities in the path, people will be traveling to the stunning Eyre Peninsula of South Australia (SA) to greet the Moon’s shadow. Those searching for clearer skies will head into the outback in SA, New South Wales (NSW), and QLD. The iconic Australian totality experience is likely to be had on the coast, or in the outback.
13 Jul 2037. Geraldton, WA; Uluru, NT; Gold Coast, QLD; Byron Bay, NSW. Max 3min 58sec
The path of totality for this eclipse sweeps elegantly across the whole Australian continent from west to east. Colourful Geraldton will be the premier location to first welcome the Moon’s shadow. The outback areas of WA, NT, and QLD will make great viewing locations, especially in QLD with the maximum duration of totality. Some may like to head to the tourist areas of the Gold Coast and Byron Bay. Those seeking the iconic Australian totality experience will no doubt make a beeline to Uluru (Ayres Rock).
26 Dec 2038. Onslow, WA; Whyalla, SA; Barham, NSA; Shepparton, VIC. Max 2min 18sec
Finally, this path of totality sweeps across the Australian continent from west to east, this time with Onslow in WA in the lucky position to first welcome the Moon’s shadow. To avoid the challenge of a wet season, viewers are likely to head to the outback in WA and SA. Those seeking the longest duration should consider the east of the path in Victoria (VIC). An iconic Australian totality experience can be found in the stunning Karijini National Park, WA.
It’s time to dream big and use these total solar eclipses in Australia to plan your epic outback adventure, and finally get a chance to experience our dark southern hemisphere sky.
So sorry Tasmania – you miss out. Your next one isn’t until June 2131.
We are now almost two years out from the biggest event in North and Central America for 2024 – the next total solar eclipse. This eclipse will be even bigger than the 2017 eclipse — I know this is very hard to imagine. The path of totality is much wider crossing over higher-population areas, and with FOMO from 2017, it really will be the event of the decade.
This time, over 3,000 communities are located within the path of totality in the US alone. This equates to tens of thousands of people who will be directly involved with eclipse planning over the coming two years.
Planning for something as major as a total eclipse needs to happen across organizations, and with local/state/national coordination. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) Solar Eclipse Task Force is doing a great job at coordinating efforts, and I enjoy being part of this team of highly motivated people who are guiding the way in preparations for 2024. Our next virtual planning workshop is only a few weeks away and is timed to coincide with the two-year countdown (and you can register here).
Every community within the path of totality will initially struggle to get started with their planning. Usually, they wait for direction from above and then realize over time that only they can figure out the eclipse planning strategy for their own community.
This is exactly where my White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning comes in.
Having been involved in community eclipse planning for a decade, I see this gap time and time again and have made it my mission to support communities to develop their strategic approach to planning for the eclipse. No one will do it for you. **SPOILER ALERT** For maximum benefit, the eclipse should not be seen as a one-off event, but as a focal point for your community development plans.
The first White Paper on Community Eclipse Planning was released in 2015, with the purpose of helping communities across the path of totality in the US to prepare for the ‘Great American Eclipse’ in 2017. Since then, I have used the thousands of hours of my free zoom consultations, repeated sessions, in-community visits, post-eclipse sessions with coordinators and Mayors, to effectively capture the key lessons from those coordinating the eclipse planning efforts in their communities. I use an evidence-based approach and do this voluntarily in my own time, so it is a slow process.
And so, after years of work behind the scenes sorting through all this material, the 2nd Edition is now ready for distribution.
This document is more detailed and focused on developing a community-based eclipse strategy for maximum benefit. Like last time, this document is free and can be found at the bottom of this page on my website. The document is large, so it is best shared via a link to my webpage rather than as an attachment.
This 2nd edition will have multiple versions tailored for each specific eclipse, up to 2030. An earlier version for the 2023 total eclipse visible from Australia/Timor-Leste was circulated to those involved last year. The version now available to download from my website is suitable for those planning for the total solar eclipse of 2024 in the US, Mexico and Canada — while also including details of the 2023 annular eclipse.
I am no longer in a position to offer free individual consults to communities. However, I will be offering planning masterclasses for eclipse coordinators, where each month a maximum of six coordinators can come together and we will deep-dive into various topics. I will only be making announcements about these to those communities who complete the form on my website, and the first one will be in May.
Remember – no community volunteers to be within the path of totality; the Universe chooses YOU! Use this opportunity wisely.
Some say the number 13 is unlucky. I’m not one to believe in superstition, but I must say there feels as if something has been stopping me from successfully chasing my 13th total solar eclipse.
Travel restrictions stopped me and most of my international eclipse community from chasing totality in December 2020 in Argentina / Chile. Despite renewed optimism for international travel in 2021, the options for traveling to Antarctica for totality in December 2021 remain limited. Even if South American borders remain open to allow travelers to connect with their cruise ships to Antarctica, COVID uncertainties may still prevent some travelers from boarding. Once successfully on board, one then has to hope the high chance of clouds from the remote Weddell Sea will not impede the view. This is why many of my past eclipse tour community and personal chasing friends have opted out of any attempts to chase totality 2021 – there are too many unknowns and potential issues that are outside of our control.
But ….. there is now hope for us Aussie eclipse chasers. For those not in the know, Australians have been prevented from travelling internationally for over a year, and will continue to be restricted until 2022.
Most in the travel industry within Australia have had to ‘pivot’ and find new solutions to work around COVID limitations. Chimu Expeditions are based in Australia, and have an extensive history of offering interesting tours to Antarctica and other worldwide destinations. With COVID restrictions impacting upon Australian travel, they have recently opened up interesting domestic flight options which are of great appeal, including sightseeing flights south to view the Aurora Australis, and over Antarctica. These new options have been extremely popular.
Over the past few months interesting conversations have taken place regarding the possibility and viability of a flight from Australia being able to get into the path of totality. After much plotting and planning, Chimu are now going ahead with their planned charter flight with Qantas. Boom!
The plan is to fly from Melbourne, doing a scenic flight over Antarctica and then intersecting the path of totality to allow those on board to experience totality from above the cloud. To meet COVID requirements, this is a domestic flight, and open to anyone within Australia.
I’m excited beyond belief.
The flight is an incredible opportunity to view two wonders – the immense vastness of the Great White Continent; as well as seeing a total solar eclipse from the plane. It is likely to appeal not just to eclipse chasers, but to the traveling public of Australia who have been cooped up for so long and may decide that this is the perfect post-COVID lockdown experience. Just imagine the vibe on board!
I’m encouraging all chasers to get in early. Expressions of interest and the flight brochure can be viewed via this exclusive eclipse chaser link here: https://forms.gle/1Resa9Cs3XC6Fr796
It may just be that my 13th total solar eclipse chase is going to be the luckiest by far!
I’ve been chasing total eclipses for over 20 years. While waiting for each chase, I usually channel my energies into community eclipse planning and working behind-the-scenes on projects for future eclipses.
Despite living in Australia, I am a member of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Solar Eclipse Task Force, which is the key supporting organization for solar eclipse planning across the US. We have been meeting via Zoom regularly and are working towards future eclipse coordination in the US.
Plans are now ramping up in preparation for the next total solar eclipse visible across the US, including Mexico and Canada, on 8 April 2024. If you thought the ‘Great American Eclipse of 2017’ was huge, then be aware that was just the warm-up. With so much more awareness, the ‘Greater North American Total Solar Eclipse of 2024’ is going to be huge! And an added bonus – an annular (‘ring’) solar eclipse will be visible across the US and parts of Mexico the year before, on 14 October 2023. Make sure to mark these dates in your diary.
This means community eclipse planning needs to start NOW for all communities who find themselves in the Moon’s shadow in 2023 and/or 2024.
To help you with this, the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force is hosting the next planning weekend workshop via Zoom on Friday and Saturday, 9 and 10 April 2021, to coincide with the three-year countdown to the total eclipse in 2024. This online workshop will be of interest to anyone who needs to be involved in preparations for these two solar eclipses, and there is a great line-up of experienced presenters who are keen to support you. Day 1 of the workshop will provide a detailed overview of these solar eclipse opportunities across the US, and guidance about eye safety. Day 2 of the workshop is dedicated to eclipse planning. I will be delivering a presentation on community eclipse planning on Day 2, and then taking part in a panel discussion on the topic that will also feature others who will be sharing their planning experience from 2017.
There is a low fee of $20 to take part in the weekend workshop. Please CLICK HERE for more detailed information, any questions, and to register your attendance. If you cannot attend this workshop, then make sure to still link in with the Eclipse Task Force to be kept informed of future planning workshops.
I’ve been guiding and researching community eclipse planning for many years now, and my top three nuggets of advice based upon my own direct experience and the many, many hindsight interviews I have done after each eclipse: start planning early; focus on the community; and consult with eclipse experts. This workshop will help you get started – you will be warmly welcomed by the Solar Eclipse Task Force, and you will have an opportunity to connect with others who are also starting out with their planning too. I look forward to seeing you there.
As an eclipse chaser, I spend my time counting down the days, hours and minutes to the next time I can be in the Moon’s shadow. It is an incredibly important part of my life, and in many ways eclipses have become a more meaningful marker of time for me than calendar years. I know where I will be for each of the eclipse years of totality.
Like all eclipse chasers, I had planned big things for the total eclipse of December 14, 2020. This was to be the eclipse with clear skies, broad landscapes, and cultural delights viewed from Chile or Argentina, and I had set my sights, yet again, on Argentina.
Not chasing this eclipse was difficult for me personally, as it meant that I had to miss my 13th total eclipse. However, this is not really about me at all – there is a much bigger picture here. The tour I was leading was not able to proceed, and as a result 65 people had their plans canceled; and very sadly the tour company I worked with was forced to cease trading due to the situation in Argentina. These circumstances were all outside of my control, and were consequences of this pandemic. This was the impact only in my immediate circle related to eclipse travel – every one of you will have your own story of how this pandemic has affected your life and the loss you have faced.
Now with less than a week to go for the next total eclipse, I feel at peace knowing that I am not chasing this eclipse. Not traveling is a sacrifice I am willing to make for the greater good, and most eclipse chasers have grounded themselves for 2020. However, a few hardy international chasers remain committed to the cause – desperately seeking updates and guidance on how to get into the path of totality in South America despite the many remaining obstacles of quarantine, closed borders, test requirements, and traveler restrictions.
If I can slip into my alternate role as a psychologist here… what we are currently experiencing more than any time in my life is a complete lack of control. If we try to gain control over things we have no control over, we are just left with anxiety. So we have a choice – those who can be flexible in our thinking know that when we have no control, it is better to roll with it, and focus on the things we DO have control over.
Some, however, will find it difficult to see they have a choice, and will do all they can to stay in control. In this situation, without any control, all they can do is arm themselves with information and continue to plan. Unfortunately, the pandemic response varies considerably worldwide, and even within each country, state, and region information changes almost by the hour. Keeping up-to-date for chasing this eclipse in South America is exhausting – what is promised on one day can be easily overridden on a different day by some other authority. And when we become so focused on the end goal, we lose sight of the fact that when we travel in such an environment we expose not only ourselves, but others – our eclipse chaser friends, other travelers, locals we meet, officials on the ground, our hosts, and then our loved ones when we return – to greater risks. And ultimately – we still have no control.
If you are still outside of South America, then it is ok to give yourself permission to not travel and chase this eclipse. This is not a sign of failure or defeat, but a sign of strength as you are making a choice. With this comes a sense of peace and acceptance.
If you are already within South America – then do enjoy the eclipse safely, knowing that chasers around the world will be with you, watching from afar and sharing the sense of wonder and awe with you. Those already living within the path of totality are considered the lucky ones, where all they have to do on eclipse day is go outside and look up. I will be watching online, and plan to be part of a Slooh live broadcast from Chile, talking about how this year’s world events have affected us eclipse chasers.
Post-pandemic eclipse chasing will be with a renewed sense of gratitude for having the freedom and flexibility to travel in the future. Until then, 2020 will be remembered by the eclipse chasing community as the one we had to learn to let go.
My 2020 tour in collaboration with The Independent Traveller is now finalised.
This will be my third eclipse tour withThe Independent Traveller. After our incredible experience of totality in Wyoming in August 2017, we are again offering something special and unique in astronomy travel, suitable for both new and experienced chasers.
The tour will be led by me, and will be of appeal to those who want to have a great eclipse experience with a beautiful scenic outlook. Clear skies, glacial lakes, and volcanos anyone??
Rosemary, the owner of The Independent Traveller, has been running tours in South America for many years, and has extensive contacts on the ground. During her visit in January, she was able to secure exclusive use of a really beautiful viewing location in an area with excellent weather prospects, and some quite exclusive accommodation too. A difficult mix to achieve in this part of Patagonia.
Here are the bare details:
Six-night tour, commencing and ending in Buenos Aires
Viewing from the Argentinian side of the Andes, giving us excellent weather prospects
Very comfortable hotel options, ensuring a quality experience
Pre- and post-eclipse briefings
Exclusive eclipse viewing site
Transport options in the unlikely event of poor weather at our primary viewing location
Estimated maximum numbers of 60
For more details of this tour, including pricing options, please register your interest here – and mention our special code word: OPTIMISM. Rosemary will answer all of your questions and will be delighted to help you with the tour and some pretty incredible add-ons as well.
Interest is high, and there is no doubt that this tour will sell out.
We will not be offering a tour for 2019, although I will of course be traveling independently.
I look forward to welcoming you on this tour in 2020.
An eclipse-chasing psychologist is coming to the US to launch her book and share personal stories of what it is like to experience a total eclipse. And her message is clear – don’t miss this.
Talk to any eclipse chaser, and they will tell you that the total eclipse is one of the world’s most fascinating and awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. Yet it is very hard to convey what it is like to those who have never seen one before. How does one describe the indescribable?
“During a total solar eclipse, you experience the impossible. It is an exhilarating, eerie and moving experience. Changes occur above you, around you, and within you”, explains Dr Kate Russo, an Australian eclipse-chasing psychologist based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Dr Kate Russo is unique as an eclipse chaser as she has a background not in astronomy – but in psychology.
Since seeing her first total eclipse in 1999, she has traveled the world and has now seen 10 total eclipses. She researches and shares different aspects of the total eclipse – from how communities prepare, the motivations of eclipse chasers, to what it is like to experience the total eclipse for the first time.
She is a regular in the media before every eclipse, and has surveyed and interviewed hundreds of people before and after a total eclipse. No one understands more about the human experience of totality.
“Many people think that a total eclipse is only of relevance to geeks or bearded men with telescopes. They do not realise it is an emotional and other-worldly experience for everyone. People are quick to turn off at facts and figures, and stories of traffic Armageddon. Personal stories convey WHY people are so excited by the eclipse on August 21st. You will feel a primitive and eerie fear; it will suddenly go dark, you are likely to feel goosebumps and then cry out in surprise as you experience the beauty of the Universe before you. You will feel insignificant, and connected as you witness the impossible. You may even then become an eclipse chaser yourself. It is a profound experience for many people. But you MUST get into the path of totality.”
To help share personal stories, Russo has just launched her third book, Being in the Shadow: Stories of the First-Time Total Eclipse Experience. This non-fiction book features stories from six ordinary people, and is aimed at ‘eclipse virgins’ – those who have never experienced a total eclipse. This includes all Americans under the age of 40, and most above. This is not your typical ‘how to see an eclipse’ book.
Russo is known for being a passionate and inspiring speaker, making the eclipse experience come alive and leaving her audiences wanting more. She is soon traveling to Nebraska from 17-28 June to deliver public lectures and to promote her new book. Signed copies will be available at all of her events.
She will be viewing the total eclipse on August 21 from Teton Village, Wyoming, where she will again be leading a small group of international eclipse chasers with her tour group The Independent Traveller.
Being in the Shadow: Stories of the First-Time Eclipse Experience can be purchased on Amazon.com for $16.99 for paperback, and $8.99 for the ebook, which can also be downloaded directly from the author website.
Email for bulk orders and journalist review copies.
Today is a very special day. Being in the Shadow: Stories of the First-Time Eclipse Experience – my third book – has just been published. It has been quite the journey, and I wanted to share a little personal back story into how I switched from being an academic to becoming an author.
I will rewind to just before the launch of my first book Total Addiction: The Life of an Eclipse Chaser. It is September 2012. At that time, I was Assistant Course Director of a doctoral training programme in clinical psychology. I had, by then, completed honors, masters and doctoral research theses – huge academic volumes requiring seven years of work in total between them. I had also published research articles and contributed to book chapters as a psychologist and academic. After 14 years or so of clinical work, I was fully immersed in the academic world, and spent many hours per day writing. Total Addiction was a passion-project – something I did on the side.
Two days before the launch of Total Addiction, I walked through the Botanic Gardens to the Queen’s University main library to meet Julie. She was sent from Springer – the publisher – to sell books at my Belfast book launch event. She was waiting for me, sitting on an outdoor bench with a trolley bag full of books – my books. We connected instantly. We talked about what I had planned for the launch, and how she would take care of the book sales. She was asking probing questions about how I was marketing myself as an author.
I found the word ‘author’ jarring – I didn’t feel like an author. I must have frozen, as Julie had stopped talking, cocked her head to one side, and said very matter-of-factly: “Dude, why is this so difficult. Of course you are an author.”
After our meeting, I went home and googled the definition of an author, to see whether I was indeed one. (In case you are wondering: a writer of a book, article, or document). Technically, I was already an author and had been one for many years. Yet I had never called myself one, nor had I considered I was one. Even though I was about to launch my first book, I was not convinced that I was worthy of the title of author.
It took a few months before I was more comfortable with the role. By then, I had engaged in enough ‘author behaviors’ to feel like I could call myself an author. I had been doing book launch activities, had regular discussions with my publisher, was signing my books, giving author talks, and had even run author workshops. But it was all on the side of my main academic job. I was not an author when I was engaged in my academic work.
After publishing Total Addiction, I wanted to take things even further. I wanted to bridge the gap between psychology and astronomy, and translate that for a general audience in a more engaging way. I wanted to use personal stories to share the power of the total eclipse with others. I wanted to be an author who wrote about eclipses; rather than a researcher who studied them. This is where the idea for Being in the Shadow was born.
I used the 2012 total eclipse in my home region as an opportunity gather research for this next project. Following the eclipse, everyone wanted to share their stories, and I wanted to give people a place for their stories to be told. I put Being in the Shadow on hold, and I diverted my focus to publish my second book Totality: The Total Eclipse of 2012 in Far North Queensland. This was more of a souvenir book written from a community perspective. It was my way of giving back to the community, to ensure that there was a lasting record for everyone who had experienced the total eclipse. Again, I worked during the day while writing this project in the evenings. I wasn’t an author – I was simply writing another passion project on the side. The problem was that I associated being an author with the things that happen after publication, rather than the writing itself.
But after the publication of Totality in late 2013, my life fell apart. I became seriously ill. I had already started to look forward to all the author things – a launch party, promoting my talk, speaking events, author workshops. Yet I was physically not well enough to do anything, and I could no longer even function. There was nothing to mark launch day, just collapsing in an exhausted heap. My proposed launch party had to be cancelled. My new book just sat there, in boxes. To this day, Totality is a little like a ghost book to me – I wasn’t an author writing it; and I could do the author things after publication.
Anyone who has ever experienced changes in neurological functioning will know the fear of not being able to return to your former self. For a while, I thought I was never going to be able to return to a working life at all. It has actually taken me a good few years to get properly back on my feet again. Whereas in the past I could complete multiple projects while also working full time, I had to slowly build up focusing only on one thing at a time. And that one thing was eclipses. It was my passion for sharing the eclipse experience that really got me through some dark days. Now that I’m cognitively back up to speed (physically there is still some issues), I’ve been able to again work on multiple projects. Instead of writing on the side, writing became my main focus. I had finally learned that to write is to be an author. Writing about eclipses was no longer something I did on the side – I wanted it to become my main focus.
In the year it has taken me to write Being in the Shadow, I have been able to embrace the fact that I am an author.
I love the process of writing, and now I love calling myself an author. I have joined writer groups, have run more author workshops, and engage in what I consider to be author behavior. And now I have just published my third book. Today. It is a great achievement for me, on so many levels. Today, I am an author. I feel proud that I have been able to write a book that is written for a general audience – and is not academic in nature. Narrative non-fiction is a new style of writing for me, and I have a lot to learn. Having my psychology background, and using a phenomenological approach, are the reasons why this book is so unique. I can go deep into people’s experiences, and help to share their stories. It is through personal stories that we truly understand.
This time, I am going to make sure that I enjoy the achievement of publishing my third book. There will be a launch party – not today, but soon. There will be events, and author activities. There will be book promotions, and signings. All the things I was not ready to do with book one; and not able to do after publishing book two. Today, I am an author who writes about eclipses.