The wonderful total eclipse of the sun by the moon scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 24, has come and gone, and in viewing the great show Martha’s Vineyard’s residents and visitors occupied very desirable seats in the first balcony.
The “path of totality” started at a point in Minnesota and ran east at a width of about a hundred miles, for 4600 miles, and ended at a point near the Shetland Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Scotland. This tremendous shadow moved across the country from Minnesota to the Atlantic and on over the ocean at a speed of 2000 miles an hour.
It is estimated that over 20,000,000 people residing in the “path of totality” viewed Nature’s best show for a century, and all were well satisfied with the price of admission.
Many on the Vineyard sought vantage points to view the eclipse from church towers, on high buildings, and from lofty hills, but one very satisfactory feature of the arrangement was that the citizen with his or her piece of smoked glass could get nearly as fine results standing in the back yard or at some other part of his own premises as did other who put forth considerable effort on a very cold morning to attain the high places. These last were, however, probably amply repaid in viewing the beautiful yet weird aspect country and water presented during the time totality was approaching.
It is probably no exaggeration to say that four-fifths of the Vineyard’s population viewed the eclipse through smoked glass, or glasses of some sort, and so far not one has been found who was disappointed in his or her observations of the great and ever changing spectacle.
The Sunday Standard printed the following of interest:
Martha’s Vineyard residents, with a particularly clear sky yesterday morning, watched the eclipse from many parts of the island. The islanders today are describing the approach of the eclipse, the corona, and the beauty of the obscured sun to each other and comparing notes. Many observers noted that as totality approached, the sea-gulls, taking the unnatural twilight for genuine, came down to rest on the ice. The three planets and at least one star were visible in all parts of the island. In all the country districts it was reported that the roosters crowed as soon as the totality passed and the light began to grow.
Mrs. Johnson Whiting described for The Standard the view she had of the phenomenon from the window of her living room, her house, standing on a hill, having a clear sweep of view toward the south and west:
“I have never seen anything that even approached in beauty the eclipse as we saw it on the Vineyard. I had anticipated that it would be more impressive, but it was much more beautiful than I had believed it could possibly be. It was not as dark, at the moment of totality as I had expected. I could see a distinct blue color in the sky, and the body of the moon in front of the sun, was a wonderful dark greenish blue color. I think the reflection of the snow on the hills around made it much lighter than would have been otherwise.
“When the moment of totality came, Mr. Whiting and I went out of doors where we could look at it without obstruction. We had the feeling of deepest awe, almost a prayerful feeling, at the realization that we had been allowed to see such a wonderful sight.
“The corona was shining and was rather pink toward the top. I did not see Bailey’s beads at all. I could see the three planets, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury, and directly overhead the bright Arcturus.
“Immediately that it began to get light again the birds began to chirp. They had been quite still while the eclipse was on. All he roosters around were crowing, too. A little while before I looked out and saw a pair of Canadian geese that belong to my father, with their heads under their wings. The chickens had gone into the chicken house.
“As soon as the sun began to appear again I saw a strange shadow that swept across and vanished. I didn’t know what it could be, but I suppose it must have been the moon’s shadow. It was very peculiar, a shadow that I can’t say just where it was. I hardly know where I did see it, only that I saw it and then it was gone. Later my little boy, who is ten, said that he could see his shadow double for a little while.” 
Mrs. Whiting reported that a two-tube radio set connected with the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa was heard clearly all during the early part of the eclipse, and also later. During totality as she had gone out into the yard she did not know how it sounded, but immediately afterward it was still heard unimpaired.
The temperature at West Tisbury apparently did not fall with the darkening of the sky. At 8:30 it was six above zero, at 9:30 it was still six. At 10:30 it had climbed two points, and mounted steadily then. At three yesterday afternoon it stood at 32.
S. Carey Luce, Jr., cashier of the Martha’s Vineyard National Bank at Vineyard Haven, made observations that tallied in practically every detail with those carried out in New Bedford. On the left side of the sun, however, he did notice streamers of light that flared out before totality and flared in toward the sun after the moon’s shadow moved across.
“The event was pulled off on schedule time down here,” he said. “It was perfectly clear; not a cloud in the sky anywhere. I saw three stars.
“One thing I noticed from my office window was a flock of sea gulls. They were flying around a towboat and as it began to get dark they all got in a bunch and settled on the ice as they do at night.”
Everyone he knew reported excellent conditions for listening in for the radio talk from the Coast Guard cutter Tampa.
“The darkness of the eclipse brought to my mind the darkness which is supposed to have come over the earth at the time of the crucifixion,” the Rev. Howard P. Davis of Edgartown declared in commenting on his eclipse observations.
“The most beautiful aspect of the whole thing to me,” he continued, “was the brilliant burst of light from the upper edge of the sun as the moon’s shadow passed off. It was wonderful.”
As the light of the sun began to change, Mr. Davis noted a glow of light was reflected in the water and ice in the harbor. He, too, noticed the gulls landing as for tor the night as darkness approached.
“About 9:10 it became so dark that the sky behind the sun looked like a thunder cloud. When the eclipse became total I could easily discern the corona and the streamers running out of it.”
Marshall Shepard of Edgartown described the phenomenon as “the most wonderful natural motion picture ever witnessed on the island of Martha’s Vineyard”.
A rooster in his henyard crowed at ten minutes of nine, he said, apparently taking the dull light for daybreak.
“Some one once said, ‘God works by astronomy.’ If this be true,” Mr. Shepard said, “how closely in touch with Him must be those people who predicted this phenomenon.”
The luminosity of the corona fell below Mr. Shepard’s expectations but the eclipse proved conclusively, he said, that there was no necessity of burning street lights during the display as Edgartown did yesterday morning.