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Tour De Ephs

Three recent Williams Grads are biking across the country this summer! J.J. Augenbraun ’11, Tony Lorenzo ’11, and Christopher Fox ’11 are setting off on their epic adventure in less than a week! Check out their website here.

If you find yourself on their route and would like to meet and talk about Williams, or offer any support or advice, please contact them at

And be sure to join the Purple Peloton following them all summer long!


Expedition Wrap-up

From the (last) entry of the Expedition Blog:

Many of you who attended our events got to hear us on the trip talk about how one of our goals was to provide the common narrative, the connective thread with which to bind these various events and associations in different cities together. An amazing thing about this trip, though, was seeing how, on some level, that was already done for us. Not only do we, as Williams alums, have a shared geographic past and, in many ways, a shared college experience, but also we share many things in common about post-Williams life. I don’t mean to suggest that all of us are doing or have done the same things, far from it. I guess what I mean to say is that, despite the incredible diversity of paths each of us has taken, what was instead highlighted to me are the common failures and successes, the shared narrative, the things that unite us and bring us together. Anyway, enough waxing sentimental, I just thought it was cool and, in some ways reassuring that when we heard all these different stories, we were in some ways hearing the same story. Moving on…


Eclipse Chaser

Prof. Pasachoff will be blogging his trip to southwestern China to watch the longest total solar eclipse of the century on the New York Times’ TierneyLab bog. His first post:

Excitement reigns across southwestern China, as a total eclipse of the sun will cast us in darkness on Wednesday morning here. Broad daylight will turn to the darkness of twilight, and the dazzling diamond ring at the edge of the moon’s silhouette will mark the beginning of totality at 9:33 a.m. here, conveniently for calculation equal to 9:33 at night the evening before in New York.

I’m an astronomer at Williams College, and I’m here with five of my students and two of my Williams professional colleagues, as well as veterans of our past eclipse expeditions. Eclipses are so fantastically beautiful that almost everybody who sees one tries to come back for the next. So we have scientists from Australia and Greece with us, our hosts from past eclipse expeditions.

Everything depends on clear weather to view the eclipse, which will last 5 minutes and 36 seconds at our site, perhaps the longest totality that I have ever seen.

We’ve been planning for 18 years for this eclipse, since there is a set of eclipses of various lengths that repeats every 18 years 11 1/3 days, with the 1/3 of a day giving the Earth a chance to turn one-third of the way around.

This year’s is again the longest in that cycle. Eighteen years ago, we were in Hawaii, and 18 years before that, we eclipse scientists were in northwest Kenya. Our more detailed planning started a couple of years ago, when my wife and I came to China to reconnoiter. Yihua Yan, the chief Chinese solar astronomer at the National Astronomical Observatory in Beijing, was our host, and he introduced us to Jin Zhu, the director of the Beijing Planetarium. My wife and I traveled with them to Shanghai and environs, since Shanghai with its twenty million or so people are in the zone of totality. But we worried about our view being impaired by smog in the city or perhap even at the seaside an hour south.

We thus drove inland about 3 hours to the lovely city of Hangzhou, famous for centuries for the beauty of its West Lake area. En route, we went into low mountains, and finally I chose a site at an altitude of about 3000 feet to be sure that we would be above any smog. My grant application to the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society was successful, and it is supporting our basic team.

So here we are, at Tianhuangping, at a hotel next to a pumped-storage reservoir. We have a large terrace, over 50 feet square, reserved for us. Dozens of friends, alumni, and colleagues will be joining our original dozen people by next week. We are working away to get ready.

Check TierneyLab in the next few days for more updates.

Link to NYT article about Pasachoff’s previous eclipse-watching trip to Kastellorizo in 2006


Expedition Video

I appreciate the enthusiasm of all involved, but the music choice is, uh, not what I expected . . .

Good luck on the trip! And a special shout out to Emily Flynn ’09, a former EphBlogger.


Williams Expedition 2009

This sounds pretty darn cool.


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