03 August 2017

Did your ancestor experience a total solar eclipse?

At any given point it's likely a total solar eclipse (TSE), such as that coming on 21 August over much of the US, will not be experienced in a lifetime. Cloud conditions make the possibility of actually viewing the event even more unlikely.

According to Wikipedia no TSE was visible from the United Kingdom between 1724 and 1925. There were TSEs on 3 May 1715 and 22 May 1724.
A TSE on 29 June 1927 was largely obscured by cloud. I recall viewing the eclipse on 30 June 1954 as partial from school through smoked glass. It was total at Unst in the Shetland Islands.
Several partial solar eclipses have occurred since including that on 20 March 2015 which I experienced while at the Genealogy in the Sunshine event in Portugal.
The next TSE in the UK is 23 September 2090.

Canada (Ottawa)

While missing a TSE on 31 August 1932 as the zone of totality passed just to the east, Ottawans were fortunate that clouds cleared in the early afternoon just in time to view more than 90% totality.
The path of the TSE of 20 July 1963 was another near miss for Ottawa. Spotty cloud cover made for intermittent viewing of the late afternoon event.
The 7 March 1970 TSE was observed along the US Atlantic coast. You could view it in Canada by flying "your Lear jet to Nova Scotia to see the Total Eclipse of the Sun." In Ottawa it was an 80% event.
The 75% eclipse of 26 February 1979 was completely cloud obscured in Ottawa.
The 21 August event in Ottawa this year will see about 75% of the sun obscured by the moon, who knows how much by cloud?
The predicted path of the 8 April 2024 eclipse puts totality south of Ottawa, with Montreal and Toronto just on the edge of the zone.

1 comment:

Persephone said...

It was a clear day in Edmonton in 1963, where we only got a partial eclipse, but the shadows on the ground looked like cobblestones. We did view it through smoked glass -- I guess at that time, the grown-ups didn't know any better.