On Monday, Aug. 21, residents all around turned their eyes toward the sky to see the long-awaited solar eclipse. While the phenomenon is not uncommon around the world, people in the United States generally miss out on the spectacle; but not this year.
The last time a solar eclipse of any kind was seen in the U.S. was in February of 1979. Just to get a feel for it, 1979 was the year that the NAACP awarded Rosa Parks the Spingarn Medal (its highest honor), Super Bowl XIII hosted the Steelers and the Cowboys, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released. This was also a time when Atari was going strong, Def Leppard was releasing music, and Patrick Swayze had just burst onto the movie scene.
NASA explained that though the eclipse in 1979 was indeed visible in the U.S., it only passed through the northwestern states, including Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, Idaho, and Montana.
This was why the 2017 eclipse was such an event. A partial solar eclipse was visible from any state, coast-to-coast, in America for 99 years. In fact, the last eclipse where this was true was in June of 1918.
In 1918, figures like Ghandi, Charlie Chaplin, and Houdini were around, and World War I was still going on. USA Today reported that the 1918 eclipse could be seen in totality in similar areas as this year’s, including Salem, MA, Boise, ID, St. Louis, MO, and Nashville, TN.
The National Weather Service reported that the 2017 eclipse’s path of totality would include Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Missouri, and Georgia, to name a few. People in these states were able to see the sun completely eclipsed by the moon, dependent on where the path crossed within their state.
Though Texas was not included in the eclipse’s path of totality, many Fort Stockton citizens still made plans to view the partial eclipse while they could.
“My husband ordered a bunch of glasses for us and our kids to watch the eclipse with,” resident Laura Thornton said. “We forgot that school was starting, though!”
Another citizen discussed his plans for the eclipse and his opinion of it.
“I was travelling out of town with my girlfriend when it was going on,” citizen Juan Vasquez said. “We pulled over at a rest area around 12:30 p.m. to get our glasses out and take a look. The sun was halfway eclipsed, and you could see the clouds moving in front of it. It was really interesting.”
However, not all people were able to view the eclipse.
“I was at work at the time, so I couldn’t see it,” said Samantha Vela, a Fort Stockton native. “I tried a couple of times to get a glimpse, but the sky was too overcast; the clouds were just too thick to see anything.”
If you were in a similar situation and missed out on this year’s eclipse, there will be another in the future. The next total solar eclipse that can be viewed in the U.S. is expected on April 8, 2024!