Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Three reports of the New England Eclipse 1925

January 24, 1925

Capt. F. B. Littell took the company of 19 crew and scientists to an altitude of 4500 feet with a Zeppelin. Of the scientists, there were E. T. Pollock, G. H. Peters, H. H. Barnes, J. A. Jennings, and C. B. Watts, of watts limb charts fame. It was a normal eclipse expedition but on a platform unique among them all. (ref. S and L E observations 1943-1993, F. Graham). This nearly turned out to be tragedy in American aviation. The airship in question was the Los Angeles, which at that time was the largest in the world. Lifting off from Lakehurst, New Jersey en route to a pre-selected eclipse-viewing site near Nantucket Island, the Los Angeles was suddenly hit by a fierce northwesterly wind gust that actually caused the air-ship to nearly topple over on its side. Fortunately, the Los Angeles was quickly righted upwards and was able to fly off on its flight to totality. Ref. SENL 02.02

January 24, 1925

Famous New York Eclipse. Southern limit passed somewhere through Manhattan: exact line between 95 and 97th Streets. Observers stationed at every intersection between 72nd and 135th Streets. Path New York and Connecticut clear skies. Millions of people witnessed the Eclipse. This was also the eclipse that gave rise to the now popular term "Diamond Ring Effect." Since the southern edge of totality crossed upper Manhattan, those who were located just outside the eclipse track saw a single bright bead of sunlight persist through the maximum phase of the eclipse, while the inner corona was also visible. In the January 26th, 1925 edition of The New York Times, under the headline "Scientists Missed Sun's 'Diamond Ring' " we read in part: " . . . spontaneously called 'the diamond ring' by numbers of observers in New York, and this term, hitherto unknown to astronomy, was apparently fixed forever as a technical term in the literature of the subject by Saturday night." Ref. SENL 02.02

January 24, 1925

Mabel L. Todd also was passionately interested in total solar eclipses, and traveled to a dozen of them at a time when expeditions often lasted for many months. He photographed the New England total eclipse of January 24, 1925 from an airplane, and some sources credit him with being the first astronomer to photograph the sun's corona from an airplane. Richard Sanderson 6/97. As per Joe Rao: There were actually more than two dozen aircraft that were in the skies over the Greater New York area during this eclipse and many carried photographers. One of those was astronomer Willem J. Luyten who served as a reporter/photographer for the New York Times and witnessed the eclipse at an altitude of 10,000 feet over the Long Island Sound shoreline of Connecticut. Luyten later noted that one of the difficulties that he had in photographing the totally eclipsed Sun was not being able to see what the frame number in his camera was registering. "I could only snap the shutter, advance the film and hope that my next pot-shot would not end up on the previous frame Ref. SENL 02.02

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