A slice of the Eclipse

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A group of friends gathered on the Great Lawn in Central Park for the big moment. Photo: JH.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024. Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day yesterday with temps in the low 60s midday, although with that sense of cold still in the air but …

Everything about those minutes in the morning and early afternoon hours were about waiting for an eclipse that was said to be apparent by 2:30 or 3:30 (I heard both). Our last eclipse was in August 2017, when New Yorkers were able to see the Moon cover more than 70% of the Sun. Yesterday’s solar eclipse was at 90% of totality in our neck of the woods.

Before that, I know I was in the world at the time of the previous eclipse back when I was a kid. But I only remember the “warnings” about looking at it with your bare eyes. So naturally I never looked. I can’t recall my exact age then but I was old enough to understand fear and the importance of avoiding it whenever possible.

All of that came back yesterday, and as curious as I was to “see” the important cosmic event (and the last one of this magnitude for most of us) I knew I’d never chance a glance even with the proper lens.

Waiting for the eclipse, students just let out, gathered on the north corner about to cross 84th street to the waiting ice cream truck parked on the south corner.

I took the dogs out for their morning walk about ten-thirty. The sky was amazing; that beautiful soft blue but covered with extraordinary white white clouds of streaming long, narrow pieces of scarf-like clouds that looked like they’d been smudged or blown apart across the blue creating a sense of painter’s objective. Except vast and casual, wilder and grander. A very powerful effect on the imagination.

Although I was inside after the dogwalk, I spent a lot of time watching the street scene. It  looked like everyone was imbued  with the (imagined) thought of what was about to pass through ourselves and our lives.

As it turned out, by 3:30 and no dark sky or “eclipse” on our scope, I went out and saw only those amazing clouds (JH got the great shot of it on his way to the Park where he went to photograph the crowds who’d assembled there.)

It was after it had passed through (while I was back in my neighborhood waiting) where he saw the same sky but the masses of the curious who were there wearing the proper lenses to protect their sight, taking it all in.

And here is what it all looked like to be there and out and about, thanks to JH, where thousands of people congregated on Central Park’s Great Lawn. They brought picnic blankets and special viewing glasses, or homemade pinhole projectors made of cereal boxes or Amazon boxes. JH told me that the eclipse itself was overshadowed by the jovial mood and generosity of spirit; those that didn’t have special viewing glasses were offered some by strangers so that they could share in the moment.

65 years ago, this object landed on Fifth Avenue, looking like it had dropped from outer space (and was treated as such).

The eclipse peaking in NYC.

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