The Popular View

Dozens of astronomers came to see the eclipse, but there were thousands and thousands of people outside to watch it. In Denver the tops of all the taller buildings were festooned with ladies and gentlemen fighting for what they imagined to be the best spots, although the middle of a road or field would have done just as well.

This is what the Rocky Mountain News had to say the next day: "While the professionals, with their sails trimmed, calmly awaited Luna's approach, the average citizen was frantically engaged in hunting pieces of broken glass in the back-yard and burning it and their fingers over a dubious light on the kitchen table. The stock of street vendors of the dusky article was soon exhausted, and the demand continued up to the first moment of the contact." In this regard, some people had a little luck. The year before a phenomenal hailstorm in Iowa had smashed over a thousand greenhouse windowpanes, much to the owners' distress. Now that broken glass was proving to be a saleable item, conveniently chopped into the appropriate size for smoking and eclipse viewing.

As the partial phase progressed, the temperature began to drop. Although the day was clear, it was hot and humid. Just before first contact the temperature displayed by a thermometer left in direct sunlight was 114 degrees Fahrenheit. As the eclipse reached totality that had fallen to just 83 degrees.

In Denver totality began a few seconds after 3:29, and lasted for 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Even if your watch was not quite correct, it was easy to see when the eclipse would arrive. The track brought the shadow over Longs Peak, towering above the horizon to the northwest at a distance of about 60 miles. The edge of that shadow was moving at around 32 miles per minute, and so it took just about 2 minutes to sweep down from the heights of the Rockies and reach Capitol Hill in Denver, where thousands were massed to see it.

As the Sun went dark the corona became visible to all, although not much of a chromospheric display was seen, with only one notable prominence, perhaps two close by each other. There were stars to be seen, however, which is a staggering thing to an inexperienced observer. Regulus and Procyon, along with the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux, were obvious. Even brighter was Venus, and Mercury was seen, too.

Not everyone was so pleased with the eclipse. It was reported that the workers in the Chinese laundries went outside and "beat their gongs all through the totality." Even less happy was one lad whose sad story was told by the Rocky Mountain News:"The young man whose customary siesta yesterday extended beyond the pe riod of totality, his landlady forgetting to awaken him, was around looking for a cactus to sit down on last night."

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