Total Solar Eclipse, March 7, 1970.
"The occasion was the March 7, 1970 'Eclipse of the Century' (as all of the
US national media -- including CBS News -- inevitably hyped it);
the black shadow of the Moon raced up the entire East Coast of the United States (path below) --
blotting out the Sun for millions of awe-struck eclipse watchers from Florida to Cape Cod,
dashing past the coast of Maine and then across Newfoundland
(casually triggering another unforgettable Carly Simon song) – before heading out over
the far northern Atlantic Ocean, east of the Canadian Coast."
My own experience of the event was opportunist and personally memorable. At the time I was working at the IBM Scientific Center in Cambridge, Mass. I had transportation – my 1963 Chevrolet Carryall – an adventurous girlfriend, and some long-previous experience of Cape Cod from family vacations in my high school days . . .
Donna and I gathered some blankets and a sleeping bag, then headed down to the Chatham Lighthouse parking lot on Cape Cod. That was the closest we could come to the path of totality without a dune buggy or boat to get over onto Monomoy Island, part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. We arrived late on the day before, avoiding some of the last-minute rush, and slept in the back of my truck.
The day of the eclipse dawned clear and cool, with a substantial crowd of all sorts of viewers. We had not brought any fancy gear for viewing the eclipse safely, but there were more than enough Cub Scout groups, Boy Scout troops, school groups and individuals with all manner of equipment. It was clearly a notable event, with some curious people-watching along with the celestial display.
As the time of the maximum eclipse approached, it was fascinating to see a bright, clear sky fading toward darkness. One could easily feel the temperature drop as more and more of the sun's face was obscured. We were on the beach a little west of the path of totality, so we did not see the entire sun covered; the darkness increased slowly over 30 minutes or so – and then it began to decrease as the moon moved out of the way.
To my astonishment, the crowd started to pack up and move out almost immediately!
It was still late-afternoon dark, the sun was way more than half hidden, but everyone was bustling about in "the show's over" fashion. Donna and I hung out for another 45 minutes or so as the sky brightened back to midday Spring, taking full advantage of our rare viewing opportunity.
– Dave Tuttle