My Jim and I were talking about Total Eclipses of the Sun and when we saw one as a child. He remembered that he was about 7 years old and that it was in the afternoon and he was in the Solarium in his house when it happened; I remembered that it was when I was with my Dad making his rounds in the dry cleaning delivery truck on a Saturday and knew I had to be about 8 years old or so and remembered it being in the afternoon (I thought). But neither of us could be sure what year for sure it was.
We wanted to nail it down, since we both saw it together in two different states together. So, I went to the NASA Solar Eclipse page and started looking in the early 60s for a Total Eclipse. Sure enough, there it was July 20, 1963 (here‘s the page where we found it).
All these years later, we both remembered quite a bit about it … and the deepest part of the eclipse only lasted about 1 minute 40 seconds.
Eclipses can be exciting, maybe even a little bit scary, or may cause some measure of anxiety for a child because they have never seen such a thing happen before in their little lives. Giving them as much information as possible, especially for a curious child, can be a great defense against such anxiety. We loved it. Both of us did, even as children. But both of us had some knowledge of what was going on. Science fascinated us both. I remember a woman from the West Indies who was with me when it happened (we stopped at a Judge’s house at the Jersey Shore on my Dad’s rounds noted earlier, and this woman and her husband worked in the house and were good friends of my Dad), and she said that this could be a once in a lifetime thing. She had only seen one once before in her life.
The next Total Eclipse of the Sun for our area in the United States won’t happen again until 2017 (August 21). Hard to say whether we both will still be here then. But I think it will be really interesting if we could share it together this time, instead of seeing it separately in two different states together like last time. Jim in Ohio and me at the Jersey Shore. We didn’t even know each other back then.
It is on my calendar for August 21, 2017 just in case.
According to Wikipedia, the next Total Solar Eclipse of the Sun after the one August 21, 2017, (that we could see here in the continental United States) won’t occur again until September 23, 2071.
I am pretty certain we won’t be here for that one, but our grandchildren will be.
Information on Solar Eclipses:
There are some very good external links on that page as well.
You can even listen to the article in .ogg format in two parts from Wikimedia linked on that page or click on the links below:
Solar Eclipses article in audio format from Wikimedia:
Solar Eclipses have been interpreted as all kinds of omens, portents, etc. in history; particularly related to battle.
In addition, there are some really interesting observations made including some cool scientific observations, as well as some anomalies as well, such as this from the Wikipedia article:
There is a long history of observations of gravity-related phenomena during solar eclipses, especially around totality. In 1954 and again in 1959, Maurice Allais reported observations of strange and unexplained movement during solar eclipses. This phenomenon is now called the Allais Effect. Similarly, Saxl and Allen in 1970 observed sudden change in motion of a torsion pendulum, and this phenomenon is called the Saxl effect.
A recent published observation during the 1997 solar eclipse by Wang et al. suggested a possible gravitational shielding effect, though there is some serious debate. Later in 2002, Yang and Wang published detailed data analysis which suggested that the phenomenon still remains unexplained. More studies are being planned by NASA and ESA over the next decade.
Very interesting stuff!