Into The Twentieth Century

In 1905 and 1914 there were eclipses that could be viewed from parts of Canada, but no totality in the United States. In 1918, though, there was an eclipse that swept over a dozen states in all, starting at the southern coastline of Washington and ending as it left Florida. This was on June 8. Locations further west were favored for astronomical observations, because by the time it reached

FIGURE 10-1. A map of the track of the total solar eclipse on May 28, 1900, as published in many newspapers of the time.

PATH OF THE TOTAL ECLIPSE.

FIGURE 10-1. A map of the track of the total solar eclipse on May 28, 1900, as published in many newspapers of the time.

the Atlantic it was near sunset, fizzling out just east of the Bahamas. On the other hand, the chance of rain is higher on the west of the Cascade Range, and so sites in eastern Oregon and Idaho were picked as being the most likely to have clear skies. In Figure 4-5 we saw the temporary observatory constructed at Baker, Oregon, specifically for this event.

On September 23, 1923, an eclipse track skimmed down the coast of southern California. Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Diego were just on its edge. The obvious place to be was the Channel Islands, if you lived near L.A. and had a yacht. The track then bisected Mexico before passing into the Caribbean over the Yucatan Peninsula.

The famous NewYork City winter eclipse was just 16 months later. The great eclipse ofJanuary 24, 1925 began at sunrise to the west of Lake Superior. Cutting a swathe over frigid Wisconsin, Michigan, and western Ontario, it crossed the Niagara Falls and Buffalo as it entered New York. Shaving northern Pennsylvania it next darkened Connecticut and southern Massachusetts, including Nantucket Island, as discussed extensively in the next chapter. Our interest here concentrates on New York City though. As you can imagine, it caused some panic among the superstitious. But before considering what happened in the Big Apple, let us discuss some background astronomy.

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