Man sets world record for seeing most total solar eclipses

By: Brad Nitz

Updated:

CLEMSON, S.C. - Today, many people will have the chance to see a solar eclipse for the first time.

Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz spoke to a Clemson University scientist who has witnessed eclipse totality more than any other human, even setting a world record when he chased one by plane.

Donald Liebenberg has been in the shadow of totality more than anyone on earth -- more than 2 1/2 hours altogether.

He will experience his 27th eclipse today. He saw his first one in 1954.


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"We trudged up a hill in Melon, Wisconsin, using a funeral home's dolly to help us up the hillside," he said.

Liebenberg has spent most of his life trying to understand what heats the sun's outer edge, the corona. When the moon blocks sunlight during totality, the corona is revealed.

Nitz asked Liebenberg what a total solar eclipse will look like for those who have never seen one.

"People's reactions will be different. Some people will feel rather eerie," he said. "They are also experiencing lower temperature."

Liebenberg broke world records in 1973 when he observed an African eclipse while on board the Concorde, a supersonic jet capable of chasing the eclipse at around 1,000 mph.

[CLICK HERE for an interactive map of every eclipse Libenberg has chased]

"We were trying to catch this shadow and have the longest duration and we were able to achieve 74 minutes of totality," he said.

Liebenberg's advice for first-time eclipse viewers is to take a moment to enjoy the experience yourself and not through your electronics.

"Even with your eye on the camera, you should draw away from it and look directly at the corona because it's an amazing sight," he said.

Liebenberg has traveled all over the world chasing eclipses, even to Antartica. He said he will be watching the upcoming eclipse from his driveway.

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