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Gary Ropski's got his sights on the total solar eclipse. 0

He’s totally ready for the total eclipse

January 31st, 2017

Chicago attorney Gary Ropski has already reserved hotel rooms in eastern Idaho and western Wyoming to view the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse–the first in 38 years in the continental United States.

He’s an eclipse chaser who’s traveled the world to see eight eclipses, though clouds blocked the views of three of them.

Eclipse chasers look for that perfect viewing spot or the “path of totality,” when the moon completely covers the sun. “It’s eerie, mysterious and exciting,” says Ropski.

He and his wife, Barbara Schleck, are teaming up with a fellow eclipse chaser who will have climbed mountains and mesasto find a good viewing site–in either Idaho or Wyoming.

Ropski is an intellectual property attorney at Brinks Gilson & Lione. He just celebrated his 40th year at the 100-year-old firm.

He’s also an astronomy geek. After sitting in on a Chicago Astronomical Society talk about the 2001 solar eclipse, he and Schleck said, “Let’s do it.”

The next year, they set out to see their first eclipse in South Africa. Cloud cover, though, prevented them from seeing much.

In 2006, the Ropskis traveled to Libya. It was an era of delicate political relations, but the undaunted couple found a way and camped out with 5,000 fellow eclipse chasers in the Libyan desert to catch the sight.

“It was one of best I’ve ever seen,” Ropski says. “It was a pie in the sky for four minutes.”

The Ropskis live in the South Loop’s Dearborn Park community. He’s a member of the University Club, does yoga and is as passionate about sailing as he is eclipses.

His 30-foot sailboat docks at Belmont Harbor. Along with sailing Lake Michigan, Ropski travels once a year with fellow patent attorneys to sailing competitions. They’ve competed in Chicago, France, Brazil, New Zealand, Italy, Sweden, British Virgin Islands, Germany, Croatia, and Capetown, South Africa.

“It’s a fascinating way to see the world,” Ropski says. Take Croatia. “I had no idea it was such a beautiful country. Great wines, olive oils, clear blue waters. wonderful food.”

What’s missing from the adventure? Talk about work. “I don’t write this off as a business expense. It’s social.”

Totally.

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