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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Society

"You Ass Tulip!" - What Turkey's Creative Swearing Culture Can Teach Us

Profanity is a kind of national sport in Turkey. But it can also be risky business, sometimes leading to lawsuits or even death. One political scientist researching Turkey’s unique way of conjuring curse words explains what the country's inventive slurs reveal about its fears and prejudices.

Street scene in Istanbul

Marion Sendker

ISTANBUL — “Take your mother and get lost!” That’s the literal translation of what Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the authoritarian Turkish president, once said to a farmer 15 years ago when the man complained about economic problems.

The Turkish people were shocked by his choice of words, but it was the farmer who was led away by police and later forced to make a televised apology. As he recently explained in a newspaper interview, he is still dealing with legal proceedings as a result of the incident because he is accused of insulting the president, not the other way round.

Erdogan’s behavior was certainly unusual for a head of state, but many Turks also saw it as honest and authentic. “In Turkey, working-class people often use rude words, which are seen as more straightforward and sincere,” explains Ahmet Özcan, a political scientist at Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University, who is currently working on a research project about Turkish slang.

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