Hundreds gather to enjoy eclipse

Published Aug 22, 2017 at 4:10pm

Fort Stanwix National Monument welcomed several hundred spectators Monday to watch what has been called the Great American Solar Eclipse, the first full solar eclipse in the United States since February 1979.

Amateur astronomers from across the area joined with fellow stargazers from across the country in donning special eclipse glasses and taking in a celestrial display where the moon’s path briefly blocked sight of the sun in a 70-mile wide path. While the sun is 400 times the size of the moon, it is also 400 times the distance from the Earth.

The moon appears as large as the sun because of this, and during an eclipse it blocks the sun on the rare occasions when it intersects the Earth’s orbit around the sun.

The moon’s path would sweep across the country from Oregon to South Carolina, and the eclipse was no longer visible by 3:53 p.m. New York State is 800 miles from the closest part of the moon’s path, and local viewers had to settle for a partial view, about 67 percent, of the eclipse.

In New York the eclipse was visible from approximately 1 p.m. until about 3:30 p.m., and it reached maximum obscuration for viewers in New York State - the point when the moon obscures the sun - at 2:38 p.m.

Rome’s eclipse party

Rome residents made time and found areas to view the eclipse throughout the city. Fort Stanwix welcomed large groups of viewers who settled on its land and near the fort’s museum.

“We like to think of ourselves as sort of the Central Park of Rome,” Fort Stanwix manager Frank Barrows said.

The group included several families from the area; some travelled from the New England region to view the eclipse.

“We had been watching the eclipse at home, but decided it would be more fun to be outside and be with everyone,” Amy George, who attended the event with her husband Randy, said.

Fort employees welcomed large groups of eclipse enthusiasts, and Barrows said he couldn’t give an estimate of the crowd size.

“We’ve given out around 500 pairs of safety glasses, but these have been given to families to share among themselves, so we don’t have an exact count,” he said.

The eclipse occasioned a break in normal work schedules for some local businesses. Cindy Brown, a test manager at PAR Technology, brought her co-workers along for a break to view the event.

“We’re having fun now, but we’re going to be at work until eight o’clock tonight,” Cauldierre McKay, who was among the PAR group, said.

The special glasses designed to view the eclipse became a popular in Rome and across the country, and many people found other ways to view the eclipse. McKay used a welder’s mask to view the eclipse.

“It’s working so far,” he said.

Randy George joined several people who used the glasses to shield their cellular phones so they could take a picture of the eclipse. “I have a good shot of the eclipse. You do what you have to do to get a picture,” he said.

Seven more years

Millions of Americans watched the eclipse, and it became a cultural phenomena. An estimated 220 million people viewed it at some point yesterday. NASA scientists say another solar eclipse will happen on July 2, 2019. It will be visible in the Pacific Ocean and parts of Chile and Argentina.

The U.S. will have another eclipse on April 8, 2024, when the moon will obscure the sun in a path from Texas to the northeast. It will travel over the city of Buffalo.

“I remember watching the eclipse when I was young, and my family had to use boxes to view it,” Randy George said. “I’ll be looking forward to the next one in seven years.”