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LA STAMPA

Meet The Italian Eclipse Chaser

You've heard of storm chasers and tornado hunters who travel far and wide to capture extreme weather. Carlo Dellarole will go anywhere anytime that the moon and sun cross paths.

Eclipse hunter Carlo Dellarole
Eclipse hunter Carlo Dellarole
Daniela Lanni

ROME — "It's as if my heart stops beating for a few minutes and then starts pumping again. Pure adrenaline mixed with emotion," says geologist Carlo Dellarole, 55, on witnessing a total solar eclipse. An avid amateur astronomer from Castellamonte in northwestern Italy, he has plenty of experience in viewing them: Since 1998 he has seen 11 around the world, the first one in Antigua, the latest on March 20 in the Faroe Islands.

"I feel privileged, it's sort of a miracle," he says of his experience in the archipelago. "It rained so much and the wind was very strong. My daughter and I were in the Sandavágur inlet, near Vágar airport, and it went well. Suddenly the sky opened up and allowed us to capture the sun when it had almost entered the totality phase."

Dellarole spent 20 hours traveling to witness this unusual phenomenon that occurs when the moon lines up perfectly with the Earth and plunges the planet into complete darkness. From 9:41 a.m. to 9:43 a.m. on March 20 everything stopped — even the wind, Dellarole recalls.

"We couldn't hear the birds anymore and the image of it all was just enchanting," he says. "It's a moment that causes powerful emotions. Then when the light returns everything goes back to normal. You can hear people shouting, greeting each other — happiness."

Next stop Indonesia

Dellarole captured the total phase of the eclipse with his Pentax telescope and Canon 6D camera. His best image was submitted as NASA"s Astronomy Picture of the Day. He's still waiting to hear back whether it won. Dellarole was already recognized in January when a shot of asteroid 2004 BL86 was published, taken with his friend Andrea Demarchi, a doctor with a passion for astrophysics.

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Asteroid 2004 BL86 — Photo: Carlo Dellarole, Andrea Demarchi

After having viewed eclipses in Antigua, Hungary, Zambia, South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Siberia, China, the Maldives, Polynesia, and now the Faroe Islands, Dellarole is already planning future trips in search of total eclipses.

"In March 2016, there will be one visible in Indonesia, Borneo and the Philippines. But all amateur astronomers await the big event on Aug. 21, 2017, when the band of totality will completely cross the United States — from Oregon to the Carolinas. Obviously I'll be there," he says, "I've decided my last one will be in Tokyo in 2035."

Finally, a tip for those who haven't shared a similar experience: "Save your money for a trip that will allow you to look up at the sky and see the wonders that dominate us," he says. "It will be just you and the sun; a magic you'll get to live maybe only once in your lifetime."

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