From The Indianapolis Times, Saturday, July 20, 1963

Maine's Eclipse Is Like Race Day In Indianapolis


Times Staff Writer

CRANBERRY ISLAND, Me., July 20 -- The sun winked for nearly a full minute at this eastern jut of Maine and night fell three hours ahead of time here today.

Through a soft, sea-hugging haze, a ring around the sun lighted up like neon fire as the moon stood squarely between the sun and the earth.

It was an eerie moment.  The chill of night fell on the air.  The birds stopped singing except for a lone Canadian song sparrow doing a solo in the cathedral pines.

THE FULL ECLIPSE, which lasted 59 seconds, was the biggest show on earth today.  It even had sound effects.  A jet squadron from Dow Air Base at Bangor tracked and filmed the moon's shadow across Maine, adding symphonic thunder to the grandeur of the scene.

We rigged up a reflector in the front yard overlooking the sea: a telescope, three grocery cartons with a few holes in the right places did the trick.  With this the show could be seen without looking direct, a peril to the retina of the eye.

At the University of Maine in Orono, about 900 professional and amateur astronomers were gathered.  And Maine expected some $10 million of tourist money to roll into the state.

Rooms were as scarce as on Race Day in Indianapolis.  Rent-A-Cars were sold out two weeks ago.

THE ASTRONOMERS got together tonight for a chicken barbecue at Orono to compare notes, talking a language nobody knows but themselves.

We had a half-dozen ice cream buckets, round and gallon-sized, with exposed camera and X-ray film pasted over a hole in the bottom.  They made everyone look like a cow with a white head.

Clouds played along with the eclipse like children following a circus parade, and a soft haze drifted like wispy smoke through the pines.  And the gulls headed for Duck Island, where they roost for the night.

It was a minute to remember, as if someone had turned out the light in a room, then fumbled for the switch and turned it on again.  That is the way it was on the eastern tip of Maine today.

ELSEWHERE around the world:

TALKEETNA, Alaska--About 1500 persons swarmed into this little village to watch the total eclipse.  "The sky turned some beautiful shades of blue," an observer said.  Temperatures dropped 10 degrees during the one minute and 40 seconds of total eclipse.

TOKYO--Japan witnessed its last total solar eclipse of the Century for 29 seconds but poor weather in some sections cut visibility.

ABOARD NASA JET--Astronaut M. Scott Carpenter and a group of scientists followed the eclipse in a 500-mph Jet at 40,000 feet to photograph the event.

CHURCHILL, Manitoba--Eight Nike-Apache rockets were fired into the shadow of the eclipse to study density of electrons in space during the darkened moments.

[The following piece was apparently submitted but not published.--BK]

No 2- Hartley (If used, should be not later than Saturday)

SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Me. -- Up here there is just one thing to talk about.  It is the total eclipse.

The full blackout of the sun will cut a path of darkness 53 miles wide, and then go out to sea.

The total eclipse, the first in some 360 years, will last about one minute at 5:41 p.m. Saturday.  But it will take much longer for the moon to move entirely across the face of the sun.

There is fear everywhere, fear for eyesight.  Parents are talking about locking their children in bedrooms with blinds drawn, or better, in basements.

People in the full eclipse path, which passes right over our house, already are [preparing] empty grocery cartons with pinholes in them and a white paper reflector in the rear.

It will get dark.  The stars will come out including a few stars we have never seen before.  Chickens will go to roost early, and cows will head for the barn.

The danger to the eyes comes from the darkness which opens the pupil of the eye while the infrared rays are still heavy in the atmosphere to burn and quickly damage the retina.

Frankly, I am not going to look directly at the sun, even when the eclipse turns day into night.  Dark glasses, smoked glass, or the fully exposed camera film of several thickness is not enough.

Taking pictures is even more dangerous especially with a reflex camera.  The camera concentrates the infrared, and will burn holes in the focal plane shutter, warp the leaves of between-the-lens shutters and melt composition shutter blades.

The safest way to see the eclipse is to wait for the pictures in the newspaper or watch it on television.

Up here people had planned to celebrate the phenomenon with cocktail parties.  Then they called off the parties.  Anyone with three or four cocktails could easily forget and look at the sun, feel no pain, and still lose, or damage, his eyesight.

Up at Orono, Me., at the University of Maine, some 400 scientists are gathering and setting up their instruments on the mountain chain that stretches along the sea.  Dr. Duido-de(cq) Arturo from the University of Bologna in Italy is here along with such solar notables as David Haberhaw who will conduct an experiment on the polarization of the corona.

Dr. David Menzel, director of the Harvard Observatory, ranked as one of America's best solar astronomers, also is here.

Companies are in the act.  The Alden Electric Corp. of Boston is conducting an experiment with the A.T.&T.'s Telstar.

The Army Research Branch from Cambridge, Mass., will study the effect of the eclipse on gravity with a gravimeter.

There will be two air glow experiments, one conducted by the Air Force and another by the Bureau of Standards.  They will do two high speed photo experiments picturing "Baily's (cq) Beads" a phenomenon caused by the last rays of light shining through irregularities or valleys in the surface of the moon.

The scientists also will study the corona in which the outer atmosphere of the sun glowing with a strange light like a fluorescent lamp, but cannot be studied for more than thirty minutes.  Motels were filled; they were telephoning 20 miles to find a vacancy.  Tourists were being advised to turn off all automobile headlights during the eclipse so as not to spoil the effect of one of nature's most majestic shows.  Motels, hotels and tourist bureaus are handing out literature on the eclipse hoping to draw trade with something no one is supposed to look at.

The dry-witted Maine folk are taking the excitement in stride.  Wilfred Bunker who runs the mail and a water taxi service among the islands said: "What's so wonderful about the moon getting in front of the sun?  The mountains do it every night."