A Brief History Of Solar Eclipses, From 1900 To 2017 (Gallery)

"It is not easy to explain how the solar eclipse occurs without the use of graphical illustrations. A general idea may, however, be given in words. There are three heavenly bodies concerned in solar eclipses, the sun, the moon and the earth.

"The moon revolves around the earth, making a complete circuit in a fraction over 29 days. At the same time, the earth is revolving around the sun in an egg-shaped or ecliptic path. The solar eclipse is caused by the moon's passing between the sun and the earth in its movements around the latter.

"Once every month, the moon comes to the phase known as the 'new moon,' there would be an eclipse of the sun, were it not that the moon's path about the earth, and that of the earth about the sun are not in the same plane, but inclined to each other by an angle of a little more than five degrees circular measure.

"When the moon comes around in the direction of the sun, it usually passes somewhere below the straight line between the earth and the sun, thus avoiding an eclipse.

"Twice this year, however, the moon's path crosses the line and this renders it possible for the moon to pass between the earth and the sun, and thus produce an eclipse by cutting off more or less of the sun's light from the earth.

"The number of eclipses in a year is commonly four or five. Few persons have an opportunity of witnessing more than a limited number of eclipses for these reasons:

"First, the moon may happen along just as his path is coming or going out from between the sun and earth and thus cut only a small part of the sun's light causing a partial eclipse, which is of very short duration and may not attract the attention of the casual observer.

"Secondly, no one eclipse is visible to people in all parts of the world. It can be seen only by those who happen to live in a small part of the globe covered by the moon's shadow.

"Thirdly, the sky may be overcast with clouds at the time an eclipse occurs and thus of obscure it from view.

"The total eclipse of the sun, which occurs on the morning of May 28, 1900, is of considerable interest to the people of this country because of its usually convenient places of happening in the East Gulf and middle Atlantic states.

"Instead of being obliged to make a long journey to the ends of the earth to view this eclipse, we're fortunate enough to have the path at home, in readily accessible locations. It may be best seen by the inhabitants of North and South Carolina, East Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Southern Mississippi and Louisiana.

"The appearance of the eclipse will depend upon the location of the observer. Along a narrow strip of country parentheses (about 55 miles in width) extending diagonally across the southern states from New Orleans to Norfolk, the eclipse will be total, that is to say the moon will come exactly between the sun and the observer and for a brief space of times will obscure the sun completely.

"This path of totality passes about 150 miles southeast of Knoxville. An interesting sky scene may, however, be witnessed by the residents of Knoxville, as well as those of other portions of these Tennessee.

"Here the eclipse will be plainly visible and its appearance will differ so slightly from that of the total eclipse in the eyes of the ordinary observer that he will practically lose nothing by being in Knoxville instead of within the path of totality.

"On the morning of May 28, the sun will rise at 4:25 a.m. Shortly before 6:30 a.m., citizens of Knoxville, will notice that the moon is apparently almost touching the sun. Instead of its usual bright circumstances, the moon will wear a sober look and will appear as a large black disc touching the sun.

"This disk will gradually move over the face of the sun in an easterly direction, beginning at about 6:30 a.m. As it moves along, more and more of the sun's surface will become hidden until about 7:45 a.m., when eleven twelve's of the sun will be behind this black disc, only one twelfth of it being seen as a miniature crescent of great concavity particularly in circling the edge of the black lunar disk.

"The sky will grow into a lurid glare and other objects about the observer will present a strange and unearthly appearance. Certain of the brute creation will show signs of alarm and domestic fowls will go to roost.

"After 7:45 a.m., the lunar disk will gradually pass from over the sun, and by 9 a.m., it will disappear off the eastern side, leaving the sun to shine forth in all of its accustomed brilliance.

Mr. Fortin did an admirable job of covering the 1900 eclipse. No mention of eye damage was noted in the article.


Reach Bob Cox at boblcox@bcyesteryear.com or at www.bcyesteryear.com.

Source : http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/History/2017/08/21/May-28-1900-brought-a-total-solar-eclipse

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