No, Neil deGrasse Tyson, squashing curiosity and wonder is never okay
Ethan Siegel
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Ethan, I’m not sure I agree with you on this. I actually think you’re completely wrong. I’ve seen three total solar eclipses in my 5 decades of being on this planet (and quite a few partials), and two times I had to travel to see the eclipse. I’ve seen many more lunar eclipses. I don’t actually see this as “gatekeeping”, nor do I see it as “condescending”. I’ll agree that I can afford (time and money) to travel, so I’ve been fortunate.

There are typically 2 solar eclipses and typically 2 lunar eclipses every calendar year. I’ll agree that since most of the earth is uninhabited, and some are penumbral (sometimes referred to as “annular”) eclipses (not totality) yet, it is factually not that rare. In fact I feel that you’re condescending to Dr. Tyson. You’ve missed the point that most of the world’s population does not live in the U.S. So, if totality passes over China or India, there are chances for 1 billion people to experience a solar eclipse. So, Olympics are indeed rarer. I’ve never been to any Olympics because I didn’t have the time to do so. I will go to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 since I have a house in Tokyo. I’ve been to one Super Bowl with celebrations across the U.S. a few World Cup games with truly wondrous international festivities in many countries across the world. I’ve even seen Comet Halley months before most of the world saw it (our astronomical society had a number of large homebrew telescopes) where you look, using averted vision and draw the star field. Look a number of hours later and see one object had moved, that was Comet Halley but no tails yet. When it came close to see with my naked eye, I travelled to a truly dark place. I hope I get to see it again, because next time around, it will be much closer to the earth’s orbit than last time and might be visible in the daytime. That will be an awesome, typically once in a lifetime international event.

Feb. 26, 2017 was an penumbral eclipse. 2017 will only have 2 solar (1 penumbral, 1 total) and 2 lunar eclipses. But there are years where up to 7 solar and lunar eclipses happened or will happen (1982 and 2038). 2018 and 2019 will have 5. 2020 will have 6. Get in touch with Astronomers Without Borders, they travel to eclipses or track them.

I am a non-professional astronomer, more of a hobby, but I don’t find Dr. Tyson’s statement condescending at all. I didn’t care for his Cosmos series (mainly because I watched Dr. Sagan’s original series where we did not even know about “dark” matter or “dark” energy although we already knew about the accelerating expansion of the universe). But I do like Star Talk where you have non-astronomers and their connection to science.

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