Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - 68

Star Party of 6 Million

before totality, their visibility enhanced on the snow. The
crowds watched in silent awe as the dark Moon completely
blotted out the Sun, leaving the pearly corona to shine in its
magical, feathery beauty. It was precisely 9:11 a.m. The Big
Apple was engulfed in darkness.
Three women were reported to have fainted at the sudden onset of night. In the Bronx a lady, pointing her hand
skyward, was overheard asking a man standing next to her,
"Is that star Altair?" To which the man replied, "I don't know
- I'm a stranger here." Among those who saw the eclipse

p SPECTATORS President Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace (center couple) viewed the partial eclipse from the White House.

68

J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 7 * SK Y & TELESCOPE

were 20 prisoners waiting to be arraigned in front of the
Yorkville Courthouse. At the moment of totality their patrolman scanned the sky and decided to watch the eclipse with
his prisoners by his side. Police feared that pickpockets would
have a field day with the rapt crowds all looking up, but the
frigid temperature and the limited time in which to act must
have discouraged them.
The event did not go without unfortunate mishaps. A 50year-old man dropped dead while viewing the eclipse from a
hill on the outskirts of Danbury, Connecticut. A woman was
severely injured when she fell from her second-story window
while watching the airship Los Angeles flying overhead on its
way to observe the eclipse (more on that later).
Just north of the city, all the cadets of the United States
Military Academy at West Point viewed the eclipse from the
school's grounds, deemed the center of the "black belt." Among
the spectators were a group of astronomy professors from
Rutgers College. Some astronomers searched the corona with
telescopes for the ever-elusive planet Vulcan, which even in
1925 some thought might orbit the Sun closer than Mercury
- 10 years after Einstein's general theory of relativity put any
need for Vulcan to rest (S&T: Dec. 2015, p. 18).
As it happened, astronomers had not predicted very accurately either the time of the onset of totality nor the southern
limit of the Moon's shadow. Totality was about four seconds
late, while the southern edge of the umbra passed between
96th and 97th Streets, thirteen blocks north of the predicted
limit. Those who had confidently positioned themselves on
the wrong side of the dividing line were out of luck: they saw
only an extremely deep partial eclipse. The next day the New
York Times ran a banner headline on its front page: "Eclipse
Four Seconds Late Here, But A Brilliant Show; Seen from
Land, Sea, And Air, It Thrills Millions; City Halts To Gaze;
Scientists Now Study The Data."

TOP: COURTESY ELI M AOR (2), BOT TO M: COURTESY MIK E K EN TRIA N A K IS / A AS / TSE1925.CO M

p BLACK BELT The total eclipse began at sunrise in Minnesota and raced across the Great Lakes before sweeping New York and southern New
England. This map, with rail lines, appeared in the railroad pamphlet on the previous page. Right: Totality, shot by an unknown photographer. Film
in the 1920s had a narrow dynamic range, with not much leeway between underexposure and overexposure - a problem for a subject like the
solar corona with its broad range of brightnesses. The eye, with its greater dynamic range, showed much more of the corona, and in finer detail.


http://www.TSE1925.COM

Sky and Telescope - January 2017

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Sky and Telescope - January 2017

Contents
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - Cover1
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - Cover2
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - 1
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - Contents
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - 3
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - 4
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - 5
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - 6
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - 7
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Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - Cover3
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - Cover4
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - SGA17RAL
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - 90
Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - SGA17R
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Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - SGA17EAL
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