Sky and Telescope - January 2017 - 70

Star Party of 6 Million

p MORNING AFTER On October 25th, the New York Times was full
of eclipse stories. At the time, a total eclipse was not just a spectacle
but a rare chance for cutting-edge discoveries regarding the Sun.

Planning was helped by the fact that the direction of the
approaching shadow was, by a fortuitous coincidence, nearly
aligned with the Manhattan street grid.
When the results were plotted on a map, they indicated
that the umbra's southern edge passed between 96th and
97th Streets - a suspiciously small uncertainty of some 225
feet, considering the irregularity of the Moon's limb and the
fact that the shadow was cast by an object nearly 400,000 km
(250,000 miles) away.
When it was over, news reports estimated that most of the
city's six million citizens watched the eclipse from the streets
and parks, their homes, or the rooftops of their apartment
buildings. It was the largest astrofest ever - and it was free
for all to join.
New York will have to wait until the early morning of May
1, 2079, for a repeat show.
■ ELI MAOR, a veteran eclipse chaser, is the author of five

p TRICK SHOT At Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, an unknown
photographer took 18 exposures on the same film - 17 brief ones
showing the Sun's surface, and a longer one timed to record the corona.

70

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

books on the history of mathematics and astronomy. He
thanks Gary Gustin of the Skokie Public Library in Skokie, Ill.,
for help in locating newspapers, Paul Baker for details about
the New York Stock Exchange, Michael Zeiler for the newspaper above, and Luise Maor for her editorial suggestions.

TOP: COURTESY MICH A EL ZEILER, BOT TO M: COURTESY MIK E K EN TRIA N A K IS / A AS

the other direction with a piece of exposed film and report
whether it was completely covered by the Moon, or whether
a slim crescent of brightness remained visible throughout.
A few teams also took photometric readings of the ambient
light. The operation was planned with military-like precision.
Each observer was ordered to leave his position as soon as
totality was over and report his finding to his local foreman.



Sky and Telescope - January 2017

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