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Upcoming solar eclipse recalls eclipses of yesteryear

FILE - In this May 20, 2012, file photo, the annular solar eclipse produces flare through a lens in Alameda, Calif. Destinations are hosting festivals, hotels are selling out and travelers are planning trips for the total solar eclipse that will be visible coast to coast on Aug. 21, 2017. A narrow path of the United States 60 to 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina will experience total darkness, also known as totality. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

With only some 70 days till the great American total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, many are making final plans to be in the path of totality.

Here in America, some 14 states are in this rare path and it is only 70 miles wide, at best. Where will you be?

This is the first major total solar eclipse since 1979.

A similar type eclipse was seen over a large portion of Alaska, Canada and the U.S. mainland on July 29, 1878.

This was not to be an ordinary eclipse by any means, as many famous astronomers and curious members of the public traveled from many parts of the nation to be in the shadow of the moon.

One of the more interesting spectators of this eclipse was none other than inventor Thomas Edison. He traveled with an eclipse party by train to the remote area of Rawlins, Wyoming.

Setting up camp on the date of totality was quite an experience for the young Edison, as he brought with him a device he developed, called the tasimeter. The tasimeter was an instrument that measured infrared radiation from the sun.

As the 2:50 of totality approached the camp, Edison pointed his device towards the sun in hopes of capturing the invisible heat.

Totality arrived and he noticed something that he would never forget: Large swarms of grasshoppers flying by, stopped stopped because of the sudden darkness, cattle stopped in the fields and the stars came out in the middle of the day!

Sadly, his tasimeter experiment did not work well at all.

Astronomers thought that they had found the elusive planet called Vulcan, closer in to the Sun than Mercury, but later it was noted that this was just a fluke.

Some of the first images of the eclipse were captured by a new technique known as photography.

The 31 year old Edison had remained in Wyoming after astronomer Henry Draper and crew left the region.

Edison was to journey on to the outback of Wyoming on a hunting a fishing expedition and some claimed that he got the idea for the incandescent electric light from seeing his bamboo fishing pole fall into the campfire and was intrigued by the glow the bamboo material gave off.

Whatever the truth is about that story; the total solar eclipse of 1878 is one which will be repeated in August this year and, for those in Wyoming, the path of the shadow of the moon will be some 80 miles to the north of where Edison was in Rawlins!

Amazing eclipse history!

Here in Arizona, we will see only some 70 percent of the moon cover the Sun, so make sure you have the proper eye protection to view it!

More on that in the coming weeks!

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