This morning brought the first visible solar eclipse here in four years, and I was about to miss it.
The growing sun was rising, but my view of Blue Mountain was blocked by trees. Bad planning on my part.
We had plenty of time to prepare for the annular solar eclipse on June 10. We got ourselves a solar filter for the camera and brought out some undamaged eclipse goggles from 2017. We were worried about the clouds in the forecast and were delighted to wake up before dawn in a clear enough sky.
Now I was panicking. I was quickly descending the mountain – too fast, my wife would, and said – trying to quickly think of a place in the slate belt that would have the right view.
We knew we wouldn’t get the best. The path of totality, where a thin ring of fire demarcates the moon centered on the face of the sun, crosses the North Pole, from Canada to Russia. So, yes, not a good option for us.
But we knew that much of the eastern United States would have a view, weather permitting. From the Lehigh Valley, about 75% of the sun was obscured by the moon at sunrise at 5:30 a.m.
My lovely wife, whom I adore immensely, had graciously agreed to wake up when it was still dark and make the trip for this all too rare heavenly experience. Now she was riding a shotgun, white fists on Blue Mountain, thinking about where, among the rolling hills of the Slate Belt, we could actually see this crescent sunrise.
The! The Washington Township Municipal Building in Northampton County stands atop a slight elevation above the recreation grounds. The view to the northeast was perfect – or as perfect as we were going to get it. The clouds hid which horizon was visible just above the trees.
We parked, mounted the camera on the tripod, applied the sun filter, put on the eclipse glasses, and waited for the sun to dispel the low clouds.
A policeman stopped.
“Is an eclipse happening today? ” He asked.
” Sure. Right away, I replied.
“You have chosen a good place for it,” he said. So it was settled. (He left before we thought of getting him an extra pair of Eclipse glasses.)
Indeed, the sun was pointing between the clouds as it rose. A big bite seemed to be missing. The haze made it more striking during the short time it was visible. It slipped behind a cloud bank and by 6.30am the moon had cleared the sun and everything was back to normal.
It wasn’t the dramatic landscape footage like NJ.com’s of the Jersey Shore (some of which can be seen below, along with others from other Advance Local news sites cleveland.com and MLive. com). But it was still proof that Lehigh Valley had seen the eclipse.
The cosmic ballet continues, and fortunately my marriage too. I will better plan for the next solar eclipses of the United States in 2023 and 2024.
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Steve Novak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.