Weather Channel producer Michelle Birnbaum talking to Donald Liebenberg after interview. Photo courtesy: Jim Melvin

Weather Channel producer Michelle Birnbaum talking to Donald Liebenberg after interview.
Image Credit: Jim Melvin / Clemson University

CLEMSON — Clemson University professor Donald Liebenberg is making rounds with national media, talking about his many adventures studying total solar eclipses. The Weather Channel, BBC, NPR, NBC News Channel, NBC News MACH, FOX News Channel and counting, either interviewed or plan to interview Liebenberg for their coverage of the Aug. 21 Eclipse over Clemson viewing party.

Liebenberg is an adjunct professor in the College of Science’s department of physics and astronomy.

He started traveling around the globe to enter the path of totality of solar eclipses long before he came to Clemson in 1996. Liebenberg witnessed 26 total eclipses over the past 60-plus years and he is still excited to see the upcoming one.

“My first eclipse was a fascinating experience,” Liebenberg said. “But, though I didn’t know it at the time, the best was yet to come.”


On a hill in Mellen, Liebenberg and his team set up their equipment on saw horses. Photo courtesy: Donald Liebenberg.

Liebenberg witnessed his first eclipse June 30, 1954, in Mellen, Wisconsin. He was hooked after that. The professor viewed total solar eclipses from the ground, on ships in the middle of oceans and from airplanes. He even watched one from the cabin of a Concorde supersonic airliner where he remained within the window of totality for 74 minutes. Add it all up, and Liebenberg spent nearly three hours of his life in totality – a world record.

The professor documented his experiences in 26 AND COUNTING / The Liebenberg Chronicles on the Eclipse over Clemson web page.

“On Dec. 4, another eclipse occurred across northern South Africa and I signed up for a tour,” Liebenberg wrote in one account. “Lodging was in a small camp from which we would drive an hour to the eclipse site. However, reports of traffic snarls caused the leaders to plan a different location. This turned out to be a mistake, and clouds kept us from seeing the corona in totality while it was clear at the primary site.”

Liebenberg will grant interviews to media until Aug. 18. He plans to witness total eclipse 27 with his wife Norma from the couple’s home.

The Eclipse over Clemson viewing takes place 10:45 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 21, outside of  the Watt Family Innovation Center.