1. Noun Someone who has given in to their insatiable desire to re- experience the thrill and excitement of totality.
Passion [pash-uh n]
1. Noun A strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.
BEING AN ECLIPSE CHASER
Many people have hobbies or interests. Some have things in life they are passionate about. For us eclipse chasers, the total eclipse becomes our passion. We plan our whole lives around being within the path of totality. We travel with purpose and meaning – to experience this wonderful moment again and again. Over time, we meet other chasers, and form incredible bonds. Eclipse chasing is more than just a hobby or interest – it is a way of life.
Many people are keen to see a total eclipse, but it’s not until you experience it that you really understand how overwhelming and powerful totality is. The urge to see another eclipse is compelling – some would say a ‘Total Addiction’. It is such a strong, powerful urge that cannot be shaken.
Not everyone who experiences a total solar eclipse will go on to become an eclipse chaser. Some want to but are limited by their circumstances. Others really enjoy the experience and are content that they have seen this once-in-a-lifetime event. But those who feel that urge very strongly will always find a way to see the next one. And when things get in the way and we are unable to travel into the path of totality – or if sneaky clouds block our view – then we get very distressed.
Anyone can become an eclipse chaser. While those featured most in the media tend to be retired men with a science background, eclipse chasers really come from all walks of life. Our totality experience is what binds us, regardless of our culture, background, language or beliefs.
A fun fact – eclipse chasers refer to those who have never before seen a total eclipse as an ‘eclipse virgin’.
MY TIME IN TOTALITY
WHAT ECLIPSES MEAN TO ECLIPSE CHASERS
Immediately following my first total eclipse, I became an eclipse chaser – even though I had no idea that there was such a thing. I was determined that I would re-experience that moment as often as I could.
I will now go anywhere – yes, anywhere – to experience totality. I have now seen 12 total eclipses. Eclipse chasing has allowed me to have some incredible life experiences, and to travel with meaning. I gain an insight into different cultures on a level I would never have before, and I get to meet people in locations I would never have traveled to if it weren’t for the path of totality.
Solar eclipses from 2010 to 2016. (c) Michael Zeiler.
For me, it is like I do not have a choice about being an eclipse chaser. It has simply become a part of who I am. I know that for every future total eclipse, I will do all that I can to get myself into the path of totality so I can again be in the shadow of the Moon.
I am not alone. I have surveyed and interviewed many eclipse chasers, and other chasers say the same. Here are a few other eclipses talking about who they are, and what eclipses mean to them:
David Finlay, Australia.
Christiaan Klein Lebbink, Netherland
Together, we form an eclipse chasing community that connects us.
Over time, we tend to develop mastery and apply our existing skills to our eclipse passion. For me, I am applying my psychology and research expertise to help understand and put words to this incredible experience so that people can understand why it is so special. I also use my clinical and consulting skills to help communities prepare for eclipses. I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life.
Other eclipse chasers have used their expertise to share skills in other ways. For example, in eclipse photography, weather predictions, maps, documentary filming, art work, and publishing books. As a result, the eclipse chasing community has developed resources to allow others to benefit from our knowledge and experiences.
You can read all about being an eclipse chaser in my first book Total Addiction: The Life of an Eclipse Chaser.
A really interesting documentary is currently being put together attempting to capture what is special about eclipses, and why us chasers chase. You can see the trailer here – it’s pretty amazing – and if you are an eclipse chaser, then reach out and take part.
It’s a really great community, and I love being part of it.