Mid-day Sun Disappears on Cloudless Day – Total Eclipse, 45 Years Ago

March 7th, 1970: Jeanne and I, now engaged, traveled to Virginia Beach, Va., to see a rare total eclipse of the sun, 

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 9.26.36 AM

We chose to drive down the Jersey Shore; across the Delaware Bay by ferry; through the sparsly populated Del-Mar-Va Peninsula; across the recently opened 17 mile Chesepeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Norfolk, and then over to Virginia Beach to be in the center of the several-mile wide “path of totality,” or shadow of the moon.

As the the partial phase began, hundreds of spectators were already in place with telescopes, cameras, and blankets! (The cold Atlantic Ocean is to the left.)12.044     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

Below: Using eye protection, viewers carefully watched as the moon slid across the sun, casting an eerie pale on the beach, which just a while earlier was bathed in brilliant sunshine. Note the twilight-like coloring near the horizon. This was about 1:00 PM12.048     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1 - Version 2

Below: The moments before totality were enhanced by silence from usually gabby shorebirds.12.060     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

My equipment was laughable, and getting “text book” images was not to happen. But except for a slight double image, this was what appeared a second before totality – a pheneomena called Baily’s Beads, where the last rays of the sun pass through the mountain valleys and topography of the moon.12.061     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

The Corona, not ordinarily visible, is the plasma atmosphere of the sun. It is seen here with the sun totally blocked by the moon.12.064     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

Jeanne, tolerant of my varied and questionable interests, would put that to the test in the next few hours as restauranteurs did not anticipate the overwhelming flow of hungry travelers up the Eastern Shore later that afternoon. Finding a place to EAT was an unanticipated challenge.12.079     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

A 10x “finder scope” with Neutral Density filter strapped to an  EXA SLR – on a flimsy tripod proved interesting, but inadequate. It was only matched by my lack of experience in better capturing this event.  12.082     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-2

The filter needed to be removed for the total phase, which lasted an unusually long 3 minutes.

In a little under 24 hours, Jeanne and I drove about 800 miles in our 1967 MGB-GT to see the eclipse. Couldn’t get much better! 

12.086     3-14-70 Jersey City, MGB-GT and Jeanne, probable date_edited-1

Final Note: There are usually several total solar eclipses visible somewhere on earth every year, but the next one passing  along the Eastern US would be 54 years later, in…2024. A MAJOR correction here: 8/21/17 will see a TSE stretching across the US exiting off the South Carolina coast. 

Thanks for viewing, and comments are always welcomed. M 🙂


About mvschulze

This entry was posted in 1970's, Astronomy, Eclipse, History, MGB, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Mid-day Sun Disappears on Cloudless Day – Total Eclipse, 45 Years Ago

  1. disperser says:

    Are you getting ready for the next one?

    Interesting and unique experience. I don’t remember if I saw any of it. I remember a number of partial eclipses, and 1970 would find me in high school, a time that for a number of reasons has been mostly purged from my mind. I seem to recall using pinholes to view eclipses, but I think they were later events.

    Anyway, nice photos for us and I’m sure nice memories for you guys.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mvschulze says:

      Certainly! 4/8/24, only 9 years away, with excellent viewing on a US path from Texas to Maine, Including western NY state. Good weather, and being alive would help! 🙂


    • disperser says:

      I’m putting more emphasis on preference for the latter.


      • mvschulze says:

        Bad news, good news. I was (embarrassingly) mis-led (ok – mistaken,) by a source emphasizing 2024 as the next total along the east coast. In fact, it is only 2+ years away, 8/21/17, with the totality path stretching across the country from Oregon to South Carolina. (This means only a few hundred miles north of you!) The good news: chances of me seeing and maybe photographing another TSE are greatly improved! M 🙂


      • disperser says:

        . . . as are mine.

        I should have checked; information from the internet is seldom reliable.


  2. Ed says:

    Excellent post! Its hard to believe I was a mere tot of 5 when that took place and I’ll be 59 for the next one, hope I’ll still be around to photograph it. Also, I had am MG midget in high school, it was baby poop yellow, loved that car.. 🙂


    • mvschulze says:

      Ed: I hope I’ll be around also! As for the car, I had a number of MG’s, including the midget (and a ’63 AH Sprite – basically the same car.) Loved them all. I did a series on a roadtrip to California and back in my ’65 MGB, which you could find starting at http://wp.me/p37YEI-yN I think you, particularly, might enjoy it. And I admire your traveling lifestyle – not to mention the great pictures. M 🙂


    • mvschulze says:

      Ed: As mentioned to my reply to “Disperser,” today, the next total solar eclipse, which will be widely visible from Oregon to South Carolina, will be 8/21/17, a lot sooner than originally noted here. So, we all have a great oppertunity to catch this, just 2 + years from now. M 🙂


  3. potendono says:

    Fascinating photographs!
    It is fantastic that you documented all your adventures. And in such artistic way .
    I enjoy it very much,glimpses to the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mvschulze says:

      Thanks. Part of the chore is lightened by having taken many photos over the years, and later digitalizing just about all of them. That, a few original trip notes, and fond memories help put it all together. It’s a pleasure re-living some of lifes adventures from the perspective of today. M 🙂


  4. Awesome! Next total sun eclipse in Switzerland is in 2081… don’t know if I manage it 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gill McGrath says:

    Wonderful post. Wonderful captures. Lovely read. Thanks for the link you sent! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. poppytump says:

    Loved your account of this memorable occasion . Super photos you found to digitize .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Chillbrook says:

    I love your pictures Marty, and your taste in cars, Sprite to MGB-GT – fabulous!


  8. Anonymous says:

    I went on a motorcycle camping trip to Virginia Beach not knowing there was to be an eclipse and was flabbergasted to see it. It was my second such experience. On to S. Carolina for this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Chris Harvey says:

    Hello Mr. Schulze,
    We are getting geared up for the August 21st eclipse here in Charleston. I am GM at a small boutique hotel right on the eastern edge of the Charleston Peninsula and we are hosting a watch party for our guests. I’m curious if you recall any increase in wind due to the temperature shift. We’ll be 5 stories up on a rooftop terrace so I’m trying to plan for any significant weather changes other than the temperature change.
    Chris Harvey

    Liked by 1 person

    • mvschulze says:

      Chris: Thanks for your note. I do recall the cooling on the beach and a minor wind change, but nothing to be concerned about. I expect if it is a very hot day, the onshore effect could bring a bit lower wind, due to more similar land temperatures near the cooling ocean. . We have rented a cabin in the Smoky Mountains for our family, but overcast weather is always chancy. Drop me a line after the eclipse if you get a chance. M 🙂


      • Chris Harvey says:

        Thank you Marty. My mother was an undergrad at William and Mary during the ’71 eclipse and watched it from an historic battlefield nearby, I believe at Yorktown. She recalled the wind picking up there significantly. Hopefully it won’t get too gusty here! I’ll make a note to touch base after the eclipse in August.

        Liked by 1 person

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