First day of Astronomy 102: The Solar System, my freshman year at Williams.

The professor walks into the room, and after a brief info, pulls out a camera. He wants to take a class picture that he can print out and pass around the room for us to write our names by our faces, so he could learn our names.

That professor? Jay Pasachoff, who I would soon learn was, if not already by then, on his way to becoming the world’s foremost expert on solar eclipses.

Image: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times

And so after enjoying that wonderful eclipse—through eclipse glasses, a telescope, a homemade rig, and a welding helmet—I was thrilled to see Professor Pasachoff on the front page of the LA Times.


I probably didn’t appreciate it enough at the time. Scratch that—I definitely didn’t appreciate it enough at the time. And I definitely don’t remember everything I learned in that class.

But I will always remember that first day, and how this man at the pinnacle of his field cared enough to get to know each and every one of us by name.

Oh, and wasn’t that eclipse awesome?