People recall previous eclipse experiences


Across the nation, people are looking forward to Monday’s total solar eclipse, which will darken the skies over the entire country when the moon passes between the Earth and sun.

This is the first total eclipse of the sun visible from the contiguous United States since Feb. 26, 1979. The last total eclipse before that, visible from coast to coast, was on June 8, 1918.

Although she doesn’t remember the year, Anne Sipes said she remembers seeing a previous eclipse. She said it might have been the one to occur in 1979.

“I observed a partial eclipse. ... I was on a field trip, I was a school nurse down at Fort Knox, the principal wanted me to go with the students when they went on a field trip to the bridges at West Point, the Bridges to the Past,” she said, noting the instructions for the children were not to look up at the sun.

Instead, Sipes said the group stood under shade trees and watched the ground under the tree where the sun filtered through the leaves.

“You could actually watch the progression,” she said. “It was like little discs of sunlight. They would get smaller and then began getting larger again. It was real interesting.”

Morgan Crabtree said she remembers viewing a partial eclipse in May 1994.

At the time, she was a fifth-grader at J.T. Alton Middle School. She remembered going home and looking at the eclipse through a wielder’s hood and by also putting a pinhole in paper to view its shadow.

“It was awesome to use the pinhole projector,” she said. “At first, I doubted it would work. After trying it though, I could see that there was a crescent present on the paper on the ground. I’ll always remember that.”

Scott Cowan, who was attending Morningside Elementary School during a solar eclipse, also remembers viewing the phenomenon via poking a pin hole in a piece of paper.

“We didn’t have any of these fancy eclipse glasses,” he said.

Stephen Rafferty said he was in Germany in 1979, so he didn’t see the last total eclipse, but he has seen partial eclipses before. He said he doesn’t use glasses to view the eclipses or pinhole projectors, instead, he uses binoculars.

“What I do, I stand with my back to the sun and hold the binoculars up, pointing at the sun. It shines the image on the sidewalk,” he said.

Rafferty said he doesn’t have any major plans for the eclipse this year, but his brother asked him to come to Paducah, which is in the path of totality.

Marie Shockey, 94, said she saw an eclipse “years and years and years ago,” noting it was probably some time during the 1920s. Although she currently lives in Allegro senior living center in Elizabethtown, at the time of the eclipse she lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

Shockey said it got real dark, “like night” and a lot of people were scared.

“They thought was the world was coming to an end. Of course, they didn’t have the communication then like they do now because that was a long time ago,” she said. “People who didn’t have any communication, they didn’t know what was going on. Nobody ever knew it was going to happen. And older people thought that everything was superstition to them. They thought the world was coming to an end when it all got dark.”

Shockey said she didn’t remember what she was doing at the time of the eclipse, but it didn’t last long.

For this year’s total eclipse, Shockey said she’s going to watch it on TV.

“You can see everything better that way.”

A livestream of Mon­day’s eclipse also is available at

Sipes said she doesn’t have big plans to view the eclipse, but her son and his family are traveling to Washington, Missouri.

“They are going to experience the full eclipse,” she said.

While the solar eclipse will occur across the continental United States, those within an estimated 70-mile area labeled the Path of the Totality — which includes Hopkinsville, Paducah and Land Between the Lakes — will experience a total solar eclipse. The rest of the areas experienced partial eclipse.

Rafferty said in Har­din County the sun is supposed to be 97.5 percent obscured.

The next total solar eclipse visible from the lower 48 states is predicted to occur April 8, 2024.

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