A Total Eclipse of the Sun

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Photos of the Month - August 2017

Everyone here at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives is awaiting the end of August. We’re clearing our calendars, making sure we have our special shades, and some of us may be traveling long distances. Are we all planning the ultimate summer beach vacation? Nope – we’re prepping for the 2017 solar eclipse! Our excitement about the August 21st eclipse, which will be viewable across the United States, got us thinking about how physicists and astronomers of the past viewed solar eclipses. As we do every month, we dug into the photograph archives, this time to find some images of solar eclipse expeditions and gatherings.

Solar eclipses are times of great observation and discovery and the photographs featured this month show you firsthand what eclipse expeditions and viewings were like, dating from 1900 to the late 1960’s. Our images this month are not of historic eclipses themselves, but if you are interested in viewing archival photographs of solar eclipses, we recommend the High Altitude Observatory Eclipse Archive. For a complete history of solar eclipses, check out S.A. Mitchell’s Eclipses of the Sun.

S. A. Mitchell, late Prof. of Astronomy, Univ. of Va.; Schneider, from Johns Hopkins University physics laboratory; S. J. Brown, astronomical director of U.S. Naval Observatory; Henry Crew, Head, Dept. of Physics, Northwestern University at Griffin, Georgia, prior to total solar eclipse.

Date: May 28, 1900

Credit: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Henry Crew Collection

The Yerkes Observatory expedition to Santa Catalina Island, California to record the total solar eclipse of September 10, 1923. Among those pictured are Donald Menzel, John Plaskett, Oliver Lee, Christian Elvey, John Duncan, Jakob Kunz, Philip Fox, Herber Curtis, Annie Jump Cannon, Joe Stebbins, Clifford Crump, Mary Ross Calvert, Alice Hall Farnsworth.

Date: September 10, 1923

Credit: Photograph by B. W. Harris, Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago, courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

The United States Naval Research Laboratory Solar Eclipse Expedition at Khartoum, Sudan. Edward Hulburt is in the first row standing 4th from right.

Date: February 1952

Credit: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives

Spencer Weart, Jim Faller, John Malville, Jack Brandt, Jim Brault, Jack Eddy, John Jefferies, Frank Orrall, Paul Kellogg, Tau Mairau (with bird and bottle of Hinano), M. Drollet (with Lynda), Dave Hultquist, Jim Rosen, Bill Curtis, Bill Varbel (Cook), Serge Korff, Don Trumbo, Bill Livingston (not present) at Bellingshausen for the 1965 total solar eclipse.

Date: May 30, 1965

Credit: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Jefferies Collection

Group gathered on the [University of Breslau Physics] Institute roof to watch the 1913 solar eclipse. Back row: Holme, Neumann; Front row: Elsa Lummer, Hedwig Kohn, Martha Schubert, Hedwig Bender, Liebs, Hermann Senftleben, Hahn.

Date: 1913

Credit: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Kohn Photo Collection

Roy Norman Peacock (center, seated) and others using a device that reflects the sun's rays onto the wall to view a solar eclipse.

Date: circa 1960

Credit: Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, courtesy AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives