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‘You see one, you want to see them all’: 105-year-old excited for his 13th solar eclipse

‘You see one, you want to see them all’: 105-year-old excited for his 13th solar eclipse

Laverne Biser has traveled to several US states as well as a handful of foreign countries to gaze at and fawn over a dozen solar eclipses. But for what the 105-year-old retired engineer realizes may be his final one on 8 April, he won’t have to go far.

The total eclipse is expected to pass over his home in Fort Worth, Texas. And he has plans to soak in the occasion – what stands to be his 13th solar eclipse – with his daughter and granddaughter in nearby Plano.

After all, “I’m almost 106,” Biser told the local news outlet KTVT recently. “They don’t come but one or two [times] every couple of years. I may not see any more. I may not see any more eclipses.”

Biser has been making the rounds in the media as embodying the building excitement across the US for what is going to be the last total solar eclipse visible from contiguous lower 48 states until 2044.

As he tells it to KTVT and other outlets, Biser made his living designing airplanes at a US air force base in Fort Worth after graduating from Ohio State University with a degree in mechanical engineering. Yet he has also harbored a passion for the cosmos ever since he began learning about astronomy in his high school science class.

He said he has honored that love by building his own telescopes by hand – a process that involves grinding a mirror – to study the stars overhead.

“It can take hours to weeks to ground a telescope mirror,” Biser said.

Furthermore, in July 1963, he packed his bags and headed to Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, to watch and fall in awe of his first solar eclipse in person. He has attended 11 more over the next 60 years, collecting keepsakes and photographs as well as sharing his pursuit with his two children and wife, Marion, who died in January 2023.

States to which Biser has gone beside Maine include North Dakota, Alabama, New Mexico and Nebraska. He has also been to the US territory of the Virgin Islands.

A typed list of Biser’s solar eclipse travels that he curates shows a 1991 viewing in Hawaii was clouded out. It also shows that he has gone abroad to Canada, Brazil and the Black Sea.

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“You see one, you want to see them all,” Biser said plainly to KTVT. “They are so pretty.”

He was able to witness in Fort Worth the “ring of fire” annular solar eclipse visible in some parts of the US in October. And as his home state alone reportedly prepares to accommodate up to $1.4bn in tourism associated with the eclipse, Biser said he has a couple of pieces of advice for first-time spectators.

He echoed the well-worn advice of strictly viewing the eclipse through protective glasses when the sun is partially covered. However, he also told the Texas television news station KRIV “take those [glasses] off” during the fleeting moments that the sun is entirely eclipsed and behold the scene until it passes and it is time to protect the eyes again.

“It’s something beautiful to see,” he said to KRIV. Biser added to KTVT: “You’ll say, ‘Oh … I want to see more of these.’”

Source: theguardian.com