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Hale plans trip to Iran for total solar eclipse

CLOUDCROFT, N.M. (AP) - The co-discoverer of one of this century's most talked about celestial objects wants to see the next total solar eclipse.

But instead of watching the heavens from his home near here, Alan Hale, who spotted the Hale-Bopp comet from his driveway in 1995, will have to travel to Iran next month with about a dozen other stargazers to see the eclipse.

The group is still waiting on visas, Hale said.

"I understand that the Iranians wait until the last minute," he said. "We haven't had word yet, but we'll probably get them."

Despite the anti-American rallies that occurred recently in Tehran, Iran , Hale is not worried about the group's safety.

"We are there to do something beyond science," he said. "This is a people-to-people visit." While in Iran , the group will travel to Zanjan, Kermanshah and Shriaz giving public talks about astronomy.

They will view the Aug. 11 eclipse from Esfaham.

The eclipse, which is expected to last about two minutes, will also be visible from Turkey and parts of Europe. For many, total solar eclipses are a religious-like experience.

"I've seen six total eclipses and nothing comes close," said Michael E. Bakich, an astronomy author and planetarium consultant in El Paso.

"A partial and total eclipse is the difference between dying and almost dying. There is no comparison."

Hale, who has seen four total eclipses, agreed that an eclipse is awe-inspiring, but he said he's more interested in the scientific knowledge that can be gained from the occurrence.

Hale said the study of comets is important because they could provide insight to the formation of planets.


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