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Ventura County eclipse mega fan on the path to his 22nd total solar eclipse

The solar eclipse on Monday will be around 47% in our region
Jongsun Lee
/
Unsplash
The solar eclipse on Monday will be around 47% in our region

We may not be on the path of totality for Monday’s eclipse, but for many of us it’ll be a once or twice in a lifetime experience of an eclipse. However, for one Thousand Oaks man - it’ll be the 22nd total solar eclipse he’s experienced.

Monday’s solar eclipse will be around 47% in Thousand Oaks, at 11.11am, but for Thousand Oaks resident Professor Joel Harris - only 100% will do. He’s what could be described as an eclipse mega-fan.

"I think there's several different levels in terms of people's attraction to them. I certainly from an astronomical standpoint, it's really very special. This is the only planet in the solar system where both the sun and our particular satellite, our moon, appear the same size in the sky, such that when those two objects coincide, it's basically like a perfect fit," Harris told KCU.

"The sun is 400 times larger in diameter than the moon, but the moon is 400 times closer to us than the sun is. So they subtended or occupy basically the same size or same dimension in the sky, which is very unusual," said Harris.

Harris runs Twilight tours, steering groups of tourists towards the path of totality…this time in Texas. But for Harris…it’s not his first…or his second…or even his tenth total solar eclipse. It’s his 22nd.

"I started getting involved in this rather unusual hobby back in 1971, 53 years ago, and after I saw that, 21 of these totals later still doing it! We and our spouses went to extreme North Western Australia and saw a 54 second eclipse. Why would somebody do that? Well, because they're all interesting. They're all special," said Harris.

Planet earth is the only one in our solar system which experiences a total solar eclipse and while we now know the science behind it, one can only imagine the puzzlement, wonder and fear of one happening unexpectedly hundreds or thousands of years ago.

"There are eclipses on other planets, of course, even Mars, but they don't look anything like they do here. People for thousands of years had been very fascinated and in a long time ago very terrified by these events when they couldn't be predicted with any real accuracy. Especially, of course, the total where it gets rather like an hour or so after sunset," said Harris.

"People had no idea what was going on, and they were terrified, and they were afraid something was happening to the sun, so they'd do anything at their fingertips to be able to get the sun to come back. Banging on pans, yelling, making sacrifices, doing things like that. And it's ironic now that hundreds if not thousands of years later and instead of people running away and hiding from these events, they flock to them," he said.

And if you can’t travel to the path of totality this time…wait until 2045 when the path of totality will cut through California.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 10 Golden Mike Awards, 5 Los Angeles Press Club Awards, 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Writing.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for eleven years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.