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, 

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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 🙂