Solar Eclipse – February 26, 1979

Solar Eclipse - February 26, 1979

Solar Eclipse – February 26, 1979

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t You?

OK, enough with the channeling of Carly Simon, that was the July 10, 1972 eclipse. I did fly off to see the total eclipse of the sun, but it was to Manitoba, not Nova Scotia. I’m talking about the February 26, 1979 total eclipse, over thirty years ago. I was working at Chrysler, in Michigan. One of my business associates had a private pilot’s license. He arranged the trip and rent the plane, six seats, single engine.

A 10,000 foot cloud deck and a VFR only flight plan led to a bumpy start. I nearly tossed my cookies before the pilot found a hole in the clouds to smoother air. I remember flying over Lake Michigan most distinctly because the pilot eventually announced that we had crossed enough of the lake to glide to the other side, if we had to ditch.

We arrived in Winnipeg, the night before the eclipse. The morning of the eclipse the weather was cloudy, not a good sign. We took off for the north-east, first to be under the total eclipse and second to look for clearer skies. An hour before the eclipse, we found what we wanted on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, at the Gimli municipal airport. Our backup plan was to put the airplane on autopilot and do the best that we could. I wonder to this day what six bodies leaning to the right side of that small plane would do.

There were already several hundred people at the airport when we landed. I set up the camera and was ready in plenty of time for the big event. The three pictures with this post were all taken during the total part of the eclipse. From left to right the exposure time was successively decreased. In the first picture, the corona is most visible. In the middle picture, the corona is reduced, but you can see a red flare at the five o’clock position. The right picture has the exposure time further reduced and now you can see two red flares. Amazingly, the human eye could see every detail in all three pictures, simultaneously.

During the eclipse, not only did the amount of light change, but the kind of light also changed. Earthly objects took on a strange new hue. It also got noticeably cooler. Now we are talking Manitoba in January, but it still got colder. After the eclipse we packed up and flew home.

Leave a Reply