Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The Great Eclipse of 1878

 Have you ever witness a total solar eclipse? What a remarkable and magical event. In 1878, news of this upcoming cosmic occurrence took the county by storm.                 

  The eclipse traveled through British Columbia, along the spine of the Rocky Mountains and directly over Pikes Peak, making Colorado a top spot for best viewing. Much national attention was focused on cities like Central City, and Colorado Springs, while elevating Denver from a Cowtown of frontier violence and mineral wealth, to a sophisticated scientific community. 

Known as The Great Eclipse, the phenomenon created a spark of scientific interest in everyday people, drawing the country together. Everyone would be looking up that day. 
 Never fear, the women of 1878 were represented! Maria Mitchell arrived leading an all-female expedition to show the world what lady astronomers could do. The press called them "the Vassar girls". Even Thomas Edison made the trip west, but while the majority of scientists and astronomers watched in Colorado, he opted for Wyoming. 

              Not everyone had a pleasant experience. 
    Although the event took place in July, Colorado weather threw the viewers a curve. The wind howled, and 10 inches of snow fell on Pikes Peak. Setting up camp at over 14,000 feet in elevation, Samuel Pierpont Langley, battled not only the weather but a debilitating case of altitude sickness. Undaunted, with grit and determination, he still managed to capture one of the best images of the time. 
Observatories popped up everywhere. One was set up on the roof of the famous Teller House in Central City. Another posh hotel in Colorado Springs hired a band to entertain guests as they watch the solar display.

Local churches cashed-in as well, steeple windows and bell towers went for fifty cents apiece. Thronged with spectators from Europe and the states, tourist at Garden of the Gods rented tents and watched for twenty-five cents each. 
Even the U.S. Government lent a hand when Congress appropriated $8,000 in funds for eclipse observations and expeditions. What a wonderful era when innocent amazement of the world and nature still existed, yet science and education was burgeoning to make lives more interesting and better.

 The next total eclipse to pass over the United States is April 8, 2024. Check to see totality for your area. Looks like it will be south and east of Colorado.

  If you live in Colorado, a total solar eclipse like the one in 1878, won't come along until Aug. 12, 2044!!! 

 Will the eclipse bring together more than the sun and the moon!
   In my story Break Heart Canyon, my hero and heroine, Ryker and Una watch the eclipse all comfy and cozy in a hay cart. 



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1 comment:

Julie Lence said...

What an informative blog. The women astronomers need to have a romance of their own! Love the pictures you found. Thank you, Gini.