America’s First Eclipse Chasers: Stories of Science, Planet Vulcan, Quicksand, and the Railroad Boom, Thomas Hockey, Springer, 2023, $37.99 (paper)

In advance of the next total solar eclipse, happening in April 2024, astronomer Thomas Hockey looks back at the first ever to occur over the continental US during the nation’s history—that of 7 August 1869. That eclipse was notable in many ways, according to Hockey. First and foremost, it spawned the first large-scale astronomical expeditions in the US, which were aided in part by the number and portability of new astronomical instruments and the burgeoning US railway system. It also marked the first use of photography to capture scientifically useful images of the Sun. In America’s First Eclipse Chasers, Hockey argues that the eclipse expeditions were the “biggest simultaneous scientific enterprise in the United States up to that time.” —cc

Totality: The Great North American Eclipse of 2024, Mark Littmann and Fred Espenak, Oxford U. Press, 2024, $18.95 (paper)

In preparation for the April total solar eclipse, science writer Mark Littmann and astrophysicist Fred Espenak have produced this timely guide to what could be “the biggest outdoor spectator event in American history.” Not only do they provide information and advice about viewing the eclipse on 8 April 2024, but they also discuss the different types of eclipses and the science behind them, eclipses throughout history, the experiences of early eclipse chasers, firsthand accounts of what it’s like to observe an eclipse, and guidelines for safely photographing the phenomenon. Illustrated with 220 photos, diagrams, tables, and maps, Totality is a handy reference for would-be eclipse chasers. —cc

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, Chris Black and Matt Fraction, creators, Apple TV+, 2023

When Godzilla first reached the big screen in 1954, it was an unsubtle analogue for the destructive force of the atomic bomb and how difficult it would be to control. Set in the same universe as the 2014 film reboot, the new Apple TV+ series Monarch: Legacy of Monsters tackles a different message: After they discover a problem, how active should scientists be in fixing or controlling it? In the show, the organization Monarch, which was designed to investigate and protect civilians from giant monsters, evolves into something its founders didn’t expect: a passive observer to monster attacks. That message seems particularly timely given debates within the scientific community on how to tackle climate change. Fiction can be a good introduction into discussing real-world problems with students, and hopefully that will be Monarch’s legacy. —pkg