Sciences

Tyler Nordgren ’91 Sees the Solar Eclipse in its Totality

Professor at the University of Redlands creates a series of posters about the total solar eclipse.

By Robin Tovey '97 | August 14, 2017

Totality. When the darkness comes, Tyler Nordgren ’91 will be ready.

A passionate advocate for astronomy and stargazing, Tyler is the author of Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses From Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets, and he is is going above and beyond to celebrate the total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. He has created a series of posters that educate the public about this momentous event, and he worked with Rainbow Symphony to design eclipse glasses for the National Park Service (NPS).

Tyler is a professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Redlands and a former board member of the International Dark Sky Association. He works extensively with the NPS on night-sky preservation and education and has led astronomy-themed trips to Italy (studying Galileo), rafting the Grand Canyon, and to Alaska for the northern lights and an occasional eclipse. This eclipse will pass through 14 states, from Oregon to South Carolina, the first since 1979 to pass over mainland United States. Tyler saw the total eclipse in Europe in 1999, and tells The Guardian that "nothing compares to the multisensory experience a solar eclipse offers." Also, he comments on how this phenomenon has been perceived throughout history in an OPB video.

A talented illustrator to boot, Tyler has designed astronomical posters for the NPS, NASA, and (during the previous administration) the White House. For more than two years he has been working on this series of 30+ posters for the 2017 eclipse, and they are in the process of being acquired by the Smithsonian. These posters are drawn in the style of Works Progress Administration (WPA) posters from the 1930s: “The idea was to use art to educate, and as an astronomer, as an educator, that is something that I strongly believe in. So here was an opportunity for me to use my art to educate,” Tyler says in a recent Newsweek profile.

In the poster series, there is an “Eclipse Across America” design that he made for NASA and also specific ones that call the public to watch at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, or at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, where Tyler himself will be for the event.

Meanwhile, back in Portland, local alumni are invited to pick up a pair of Reed-branded eclipse glasses at Prexy, compliments of Alumni Programs, (while supplies last!). Also, Tyler will be reading from his book, Sun Moon Earth, at Powell’s on Thursday, August 17—check it out!

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