The Saros And The Nineteenthcentury Us Eclipses

Only Washington and Canada were visited by the eclipse of July 1860, and so comparatively few people watched it. In August 1869, though, a broad eclipse track swooped down over Alaska and the western parts of Canada. Crossing the border into the United States at Montana, the eclipse path covered many of the states in the Midwest before fizzling out in the Atlantic soon after straddling North and South Carolina. Although this was relatively close to the major population centers and universities on the East Coast, astronomers tended to head further west to observe it from Iowa and Illinois, because from there the Sun was higher in the sky.

This, then, stirred up more interest for the great Rocky Mountain eclipse of 1878. But before we move on to that event, let us consider the way it is linked with those in 1806 and 1860. The saros period is 18 years plus 10 or 11 days. Triple that, and add the result onto June 16, 1806. You will get the date of July 18, 1860, when the eclipse began at sunrise in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Washington. Add on another single saronic period, and you get July 29, 1878, the date of the eclipse that is the main subject of this chapter. Thus these three eclipses crossing the United States were all part of the same saros cycle, a sequence that began in 1535 and will continue until the 75th eclipse in the year 2888.

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