TBT: History of solar eclipses

Photo credit: Rick Fienberg / TravelQuest International / Wilderness Travel

DYK: On the average a total eclipse occurs somewhere on Earth about every 18 months. However, sometimes eclipses are only visible from remote locations or at sea, making it difficult for many people to view it in totality.

The last time a total solar eclipse crossed the entire length of the continental U.S. (not Alaska or Hawaii) was June 8, 1918 when the path crossed from Washington State to Florida.

There are three types of solar eclipses:

🌘 A total solar eclipse happens when the sun, moon, and earth are in a direct line. This is only visible from a small area on Earth, in the center of the moon’s shadow. (This is the kind we’ll have.)

🌘 A partial solar eclipse is when the sun appears to have a dark shadow on only a small part of its surface. This is the most common type of solar eclipse.

🌘 An annular solar eclipse is when the moon is farthest from Earth but blocks a partial view of the sun and creates what looks like a ring around the moon.

The most recent total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. path passed through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and four Canadian provinces on Feb. 26, 1979.

The next time we can look forward to another annular solar eclipse in the continental U.S. will be on October 14, 2023. It is expected to be visible from Northern California to Florida. Not long after, on April 8, 2024, there will be a total solar eclipse visible from Texas to Maine.

We asked the Greenville SC Natives Only group on Facebook: Does anyone remember when the last eclipse was in the Upstate? 

I remember the 1984 eclipse. Watched in downtown in the Coffee Street Plaza. There was also another one I think in 1996. Both of these were partial eclipses. – Tom Taylor

May 30 1984. I was in labor and the doctor had to run downstairs and get my husband because he thought he had time to see the eclipse. – Pam Smith

There was one in the late 50’s I’m 68 and I think I was 10/11 , I was out riding my bike thought the world was ending because it got dark in the middle of the day , I got home in record time ! I just wanted my mama , I was scared – Sandra Mills

The last one I remember seeing was in the mid-90s… I think it was an annular solar eclipse. I was in high school and we went up to Roper Mtn science center to watch it real time on the huge auditorium screen. I remember making paper viewers and making a lattice with my fingers so that the light shining through to the ground had little eclipse in between each finger – Apryl Mitchell

  1. It was what is known as an annular eclipse.The moon is centered in front of sunThe moon only covers 90% of sun, so you will see a golden fiery ring around the moon.Got dark for two minutes. This 2017 eclipse will be better – Erwin Frazier

May 30, 1984. Occurring from late morning until early afternoon, most of the southeastern United States was treated to an amazing view as the sun almost completely disappeared behind the moon. Greenville was in the path to experience the 98% moon’s blockage of the sun. – Melanie Anderson

Yes I do. March 7, 1970 we had an about 95% eclipse. I was working at the Service Station on Donaldson Center old air force base. I think that was the close as we have come to a full one. Solar eclipse that is. – Gary Wood

I remember that one. I was working at my dad’s Interstate service station on Augusta Rd. I was pregnant with my son, who was born May 6, 1970. – Olivia Whitman