How the Dayton Daily News covered solar eclipses in the past 100 years

Only 21 total solar eclipses have happened across the lower 48 states in modern history, and the next is coming on April 8. Many other partial eclipses have happened through the years.

Here is a look at past coverage in the Dayton Daily News of solar eclipses through the years.

Jan. 24, 1925

A partial eclipse of the sun was seen clearly in Dayton early in the morning without any interference by clouds. According to Dayton scientists, the eclipse here was between 91 and 93 percent total.

People gathered on the streets and atop tall buildings and used smoked glass to view the eclipse, which started at 6:55 a.m. and ended at 9:11 a.m.

It was reported that “an eerie light fell upon the city” with factories and stores stopping operations long enough to let employees witness the event.

Local scientists were disappointed that no change was noticed in weather or radio conditions, and telescopes in use here were not powerful enough to compete with those in large observatories for studying the sun’s surface and corona.

Feb. 3, 1935

The weather did not cooperate for the viewing of a partial solar eclipse in Dayton in 1935.

About 49 percent of the sun was obscured by the moon but those who were excited to see it were left disappointed.

Dr. Paul Koller, professor at the University of Dayton, said that he thought he had gotten a glimpse of the eclipse once through a break in the clouds, but the atmosphere was so dense he could not be sure.

July 9, 1945

Overcast skies and heavy cloud banks mostly prevented a decent view of the partial eclipse over Dayton in 1945.

The eclipse reached a maximum of between 67 and 69 percent in the region.

Earl French, a local amateur astronomer, had to be quick to get a photo between breaks in the clouds through his home-made telescope.

June 30, 1954

You had to get up pretty early to see the 5:06 a.m. to 6:56 a.m. partial solar eclipse in 1954.

About 81 percent of the sun’s face was covered at the peak of the eclipse here.

Several amateur astronomers made it to the roof of the Hulman building to watch the event. Clouds blocked most of the best peak viewing opportunities. There were, however, a couple of opportunities when the skies cleared for brief viewings.

July 20, 1963

Interest in the partial solar eclipse of 1963 seemed to be low in Dayton. Although it was a clear day, many residents seemed to just go on with their day as normal.

For those who were interested, the Museum of Natural History had a telescope with a solar filter. It was mostly children that stood in line to get a glimpse of the event.

According to scientists, the eclipse here was about 75 percent of total.

March 7, 1970

In Dayton, under clear skies, more than 1,000 people took turns looking through two dozen telescopes at the Dayton Museum of Natural History to see a partial solar eclipse.

The moon blocked eight-tenths of the sun, making it still dangerous to look skyward without eye protection or safety filters on the telescopes. Some viewers used pinhole viewers or shielded their eyes with pieces of exposed photographic film.

A little cool spell seemed to settle over the area as the moon moved in front of the sun, dimming the bright sunshine to a soft light, about the intensity of a cloudy day.

A movie screen was also set up, and the eclipse was projected from a TV camera looking through a telescope for the crowd to see.

Feb. 26, 1979

In Dayton, the moon covered about 72 percent of the sun during the eclipse of 1979.

Unfortunately, with storms the night before and overcast skies in the morning, only a lucky few saw a brief appearance through the clouds.

The person from Dayton with the best view was Col. Peter W. Odgers, commander of the 4950th Test Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Odgers was flying in a modified Boeing jet at 39,000 feet, above any clouds.

Dayton TV viewers would see what he was seeing, as his plane was carrying CBS and ABC television cameras.

May 30, 1984

Telescopes were set up at the Dayton Museum of Natural History, but overcast skies were once again a problem for those seeking a view of the eclipse.

The sky cleared enough though, for the 100 viewers there to call the day a success.

Many of the viewers were amazed to notice that small holes in tree leaves were casting their own pinhole eclipse shadow images everywhere.

The partial eclipse was covering 86 percent of totality in the Dayton viewing area.

May 10, 1994

It was a perfect weather day for a solar eclipse.

A 90 percent eclipse was visible in the Miami Valley in 1994.

“This is a biggie, in my book,” said Janice Sing of Centerville. She kept her 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter out of school just so they could see the event.

Viewers at the Dayton Museum of Natural History received technical assistance and astronomical instruction from members of the Miami Valley Astronomical Society.

Dec. 25, 2000

A solar eclipse happened on Christmas Day in 2000.

At its peak, about 12:17 p.m., the sun was about 53 percent covered.

The big telescope at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery was tracking the sun across the sky that morning. About 130 amateur astronomers were taking it in with Charles Shirk of the Miami Valley Astronomical Society.

The group was told that possible solar flares could create a Northern Lights show, visible even in the Miami Valley.

Aug. 21, 2017

The first coast-to-coast solar eclipse for the U.S. in 99 years occurred on Aug. 21, 2017.

Dayton-area viewers received a partial view, with 89 percent of the sun being blocked at the peak moment.

Much of the area experienced up to a seven degree drop in temperature for a few minutes, which was welcome on the 88-degree day.

A crowd of about 500 people of all ages watched from the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. At the museum planetarium live video feeds from locations around the country in the “path of totality” were shown.

In Waynesville, hundreds of students across all grades gathered at the district’s football stadium to watch through school-provided solar viewers.

More than 50 Oakwood High School students went with astronomy teacher Mark Brooks Hedstrom to Spring City, Tenn., for viewing a total eclipse there.

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