April 16, 2024

Laverne Biser traveled to several US states as well as a handful of foreign countries to look at more than a dozen solar eclipses. But for what the 105-year-old retired engineer realizes may be his last on April 8, 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 enjoy the event – ​​which will be after his 13th solar eclipse – with his daughter and granddaughter in nearby Plano.

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

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

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

He said he 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 see his first solar eclipse in person and marvel. He attended 11 more over the next 60 years, collecting memorabilia and photographs and sharing his pursuit with his two children and wife, Marion, who died in January 2023.

States Biser has gone to besides 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 eclipse trips that he compiles shows a 1991 show in Hawaii was clouded. It also shows him overseas to Canada, Brazil and the Black Sea.

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“You see one, you want to see them all,” Biser pointedly told KTVT. “They are so beautiful.”

He could see the “ring of fire” in Fort Worth annular solar eclipse visible in some parts of the US in October. And if she is home alone reportedly prepared to accommodate up to $1.4 billion in tourism associated with the eclipse, Biser said he has some advice for first-time spectators.

He repeated the well-worn advice to view the eclipse strictly through protective glasses when the sun is partially covered. However, he also told the Texas television news station WRITE “take these [glasses] off” during the fleeting moments that the sun is completely eclipsed and witness the scene until it is over and it is time to shield the eyes again.

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

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