Mid-day Sun Disappears on Cloudless Day – Total Eclipse, 45 Years Ago

March 7th, 1970: Jeanne and I, now engaged, traveled to Virginia Beach, Va., to see a rare total eclipse of the sun, 

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.26.36 AM
We chose to drive down the Jersey Shore; across the Delaware Bay by ferry; through the sparsly populated Del-Mar-Va Peninsula; across the recently opened 17 mile Chesepeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Norfolk, and then over to Virginia Beach to be in the center of the several-mile wide “path of totality,” or shadow of the moon.

As the the partial phase began, hundreds of spectators were already in place with telescopes, cameras, and blankets! (The cold Atlantic Ocean is to the left.)12.044     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

Below: Using eye protection, viewers carefully watched as the moon slid across the sun, casting an eerie pale on the beach, which just a while earlier was bathed in brilliant sunshine. Note the twilight-like coloring near the horizon. This was about 1:00 PM12.048     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1 - Version 2

Below: The moments before totality were enhanced by silence from usually gabby shorebirds.12.060     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

My equipment was laughable, and getting “text book” images was not to happen. But except for a slight double image, this was what appeared a second before totality – a pheneomena called Baily’s Beads, where the last rays of the sun pass through the mountain valleys and topography of the moon.12.061     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

The Corona, not ordinarily visible, is the plasma atmosphere of the sun. It is seen here with the sun totally blocked by the moon.12.064     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

Jeanne, tolerant of my varied and questionable interests, would put that to the test in the next few hours as restauranteurs did not anticipate the overwhelming flow of hungry travelers up the Eastern Shore later that afternoon. Finding a place to EAT was an unanticipated challenge.12.079     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

A 10x “finder scope” with Neutral Density filter strapped to an  EXA SLR – on a flimsy tripod proved interesting, but inadequate. It was only matched by my lack of experience in better capturing this event.  12.082     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-2

The filter needed to be removed for the total phase, which lasted an unusually long 3 minutes.

In a little under 24 hours, Jeanne and I drove about 800 miles in our 1967 MGB-GT to see the eclipse. Couldn’t get much better! 

12.086     3-14-70 Jersey City, MGB-GT and Jeanne, probable date_edited-1

Final Note: There are usually several total solar eclipses visible somewhere on earth every year, but the next one passing  along the Eastern US would be 54 years later, in…2024. A MAJOR correction here: 8/21/17 will see a TSE stretching across the US exiting off the South Carolina coast. 

Thanks for viewing, and comments are always welcomed. M 🙂

34 thoughts on “Mid-day Sun Disappears on Cloudless Day – Total Eclipse, 45 Years Ago

  1. Are you getting ready for the next one?

    Interesting and unique experience. I don’t remember if I saw any of it. I remember a number of partial eclipses, and 1970 would find me in high school, a time that for a number of reasons has been mostly purged from my mind. I seem to recall using pinholes to view eclipses, but I think they were later events.

    Anyway, nice photos for us and I’m sure nice memories for you guys.

    1. Certainly! 4/8/24, only 9 years away, with excellent viewing on a US path from Texas to Maine, Including western NY state. Good weather, and being alive would help! 🙂

      1. Bad news, good news. I was (embarrassingly) mis-led (ok – mistaken,) by a source emphasizing 2024 as the next total along the east coast. In fact, it is only 2+ years away, 8/21/17, with the totality path stretching across the country from Oregon to South Carolina. (This means only a few hundred miles north of you!) The good news: chances of me seeing and maybe photographing another TSE are greatly improved! M 🙂

  2. Excellent post! Its hard to believe I was a mere tot of 5 when that took place and I’ll be 59 for the next one, hope I’ll still be around to photograph it. Also, I had am MG midget in high school, it was baby poop yellow, loved that car.. 🙂

    1. Ed: I hope I’ll be around also! As for the car, I had a number of MG’s, including the midget (and a ’63 AH Sprite – basically the same car.) Loved them all. I did a series on a roadtrip to California and back in my ’65 MGB, which you could find starting at http://wp.me/p37YEI-yN I think you, particularly, might enjoy it. And I admire your traveling lifestyle – not to mention the great pictures. M 🙂

    2. Ed: As mentioned to my reply to “Disperser,” today, the next total solar eclipse, which will be widely visible from Oregon to South Carolina, will be 8/21/17, a lot sooner than originally noted here. So, we all have a great oppertunity to catch this, just 2 + years from now. M 🙂

  3. Fascinating photographs!
    It is fantastic that you documented all your adventures. And in such artistic way .
    I enjoy it very much,glimpses to the past.

    1. Thanks. Part of the chore is lightened by having taken many photos over the years, and later digitalizing just about all of them. That, a few original trip notes, and fond memories help put it all together. It’s a pleasure re-living some of lifes adventures from the perspective of today. M 🙂

    1. THAT… would be a long wait. You’d be better off traveling a bit to catch another one! Looks like the weather was perfect for your partial series. M 🙂

  4. Anonymous

    I went on a motorcycle camping trip to Virginia Beach not knowing there was to be an eclipse and was flabbergasted to see it. It was my second such experience. On to S. Carolina for this one.

  5. Chris Harvey

    Hello Mr. Schulze,
    We are getting geared up for the August 21st eclipse here in Charleston. I am GM at a small boutique hotel right on the eastern edge of the Charleston Peninsula and we are hosting a watch party for our guests. I’m curious if you recall any increase in wind due to the temperature shift. We’ll be 5 stories up on a rooftop terrace so I’m trying to plan for any significant weather changes other than the temperature change.
    Chris Harvey

    1. Chris: Thanks for your note. I do recall the cooling on the beach and a minor wind change, but nothing to be concerned about. I expect if it is a very hot day, the onshore effect could bring a bit lower wind, due to more similar land temperatures near the cooling ocean. . We have rented a cabin in the Smoky Mountains for our family, but overcast weather is always chancy. Drop me a line after the eclipse if you get a chance. M 🙂

      1. Chris Harvey

        Thank you Marty. My mother was an undergrad at William and Mary during the ’71 eclipse and watched it from an historic battlefield nearby, I believe at Yorktown. She recalled the wind picking up there significantly. Hopefully it won’t get too gusty here! I’ll make a note to touch base after the eclipse in August.

  6. Bill

    Thanks for this info. I was also on Virginia Beach during that eclipse. Very eerie. The slow change from mid-day sunlight to dusk and then total darkness was amazing. The stars became visible. As the eclipse developed and receeded weird wavy lines were present on the sand. At the end all went back to a normal day at the beach. A very memorable experience.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Bill. We’re hoping for clear weather in the Great Smokies (North Carolina) where Jeanne and I will re-live the experience, with our children and grand children. I do remember the wavy lines, and we’ll be looking for them again, this time around.
      M 🙂

  7. Jack

    I was there. I lived on 81st Steet in Virginia Beach back then. Thanks for the photos. I do remember it getting pretty chilly for a few minutes during totality.

  8. We’ll be heading to the Great Smokies in Aug. with two grown kids, five grandchildren and assorted in laws and siblings. Hope to show them what we saw 47 years ago!

  9. Great you have this! I was 4 years old in Va Beach then and my dad actually had a 1965 black MGB. Great memories. I wish you would have had a picture of the ocean. I can remember standing next to it, and you could see the sun coming through the water.

    1. Russ: It was a most magical day for us, and hopefully for you and your family. One of the neat aspects of that day was the twilight colors along the horizon, especially over the ocean. In three weeks, we’ll be in the mountains just south of the Great Smoky Mountains, and I kinda regreat not choosing the beaches near Charleston for this event. OH, and your dad had good tastes in motoring! Marty 🙂

  10. Rodger Magriney

    I came down to VA Beach from Hershey, PA. The car broke down an hour south of Washington; my wife, six year old daughter and I made the rest of the trip on the Greyhound bus. We had reservations at a B&B and that night a friend came down from DC in his MG-B. We saw the eclipse
    Which I had been longing for since at age 10, in 1952, saw a partial eclipse. this was truly a mind altering event. I got some good pictures with a Rollie f3,5 2 1/4 sq in plusX using exposures from f11@500th to f5,6 @ 1/30th Do you remember the great cross the corona made?
    We, myself,my wife,daughter and friend driving all drove from the Beach to Washington in the MG-B. Tight fit but we made it.

    1. Wonderful story, with nice outcome, and yet another MGB to boot. I do not recall the cross,
      but am intrigued by your mention of the 1952 eclipse. I have a faint memory of my family vacationing on LBI, (the Jersey Shore) one summer around then, probably July, and Dad pointing out a partial solar eclipse occurring already as the sun was rising. Curious if this might have been one in the same!!!!
      We are set to leave tomorrow for next week’s show, viewing it from Fontana Village just below the Great Smoky Mountains. Besides my wife, (yes the same to be from 1970,) we will be meeting up with our 2 kids and their spouses, 5 grandkids, and my older brother and his wife.
      Thanks for your interesting comment, Rodger. M 🙂

  11. platterman

    I was there that day, farther up the beach and closer to the beach houses. I was surprised by the horizontal shadow-like lines that raced across the sand as totality approached.
    It was an amazing experience. Someone in one of the cottages had set speakers up on a deck or in windows facing us, After the 3 plus minutes of darkness, people around me burst into applause as the sun began to reappear, and we heard The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” drifting out over the beach.

    It was great coming across this page and the photos.

    Grazie mille!

    1. Thank YOU! – for the interesting comments. I believe we heard the same Beatles song last summer (2017) wafting from the open field at our vantage point in North Carolina for that eclipse, seen also with beautiful clear skies, and this time with our 2 kids, their spouses, and 5 grandkids as well! M 🙂

  12. Anonymous

    I forgot to mention one other coincidence. While you were motoring down from NJ in your 67 MGB, I was driving down from the District in another BMC product…my 1965 Austin- Healey 3000.
    Wish I still had it!

    1. Another fine motor car of the day! Not quite as comfortable was a 1962 AH Sprite about which I am currently writing a post describing a 1966 1700 mile ~ 50 hour adventure by myself and a friend to simply drive as far north as we could. After all … Why not??? Check it out soon . M 🙂

  13. Just a note here: Today is 50 years to the day, March 7, 2020, that my then wife to be, Jeanne, and I made that trip to see that phenomenal event. We’ve seen a few more over the years, and expect to head up the the Adirondacks in a few more years to see at least one more. Fifty Years! M 🙂

  14. Anonymous

    I’m so glad I stumbled upon your page while looking for information on a local railroad bridge!

    I traveled to the Big Island of Hawaii in July 1991 to witness my first total eclipse.
As the sky began to darken I was eagerly anticipating the moment of totality. But at the last minute, as Joni Mitchell once sang, clouds got in my way.

 But hey, I was still in Hawaii and it still got dark so all was not lost.


Fast forward to August 2017. My girlfriend and I flew to Charleston and we drove to Columbia, SC. This time no clouds and we both enjoyed 2-1/2 minutes of totality as well as the pre and post shows with several strangers on a lawn behind an antique store.

    Since we both live close to Buffalo, NY we are looking forward to witnessing the awesome spectacle again in March 2024. Of course there’s no predicting if the weather will cooperate but hey, it will still get dark.

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