What’s Bedford Doing?: In Case You Haven’t Heard, There’s an Eclipse on Monday

April 5, 2024
The Bedford Free Public Library will be holding a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party on Monday, April 8, starting at 2 p.m. on the lawn outside of the library. Courtesy Image

On Monday, April 8 there will be a total solar eclipse. In Bedford, 100 percent totality will not be visible, but it will be in about a 95 percent range. You don’t have to travel too far to be in its path. This is going to be the last time a solar eclipse will be visible in the U.S. until 2044.  

The eclipse is attracting a lot of attention on social media and the news in general. There is so much media attention that it’s easy to dismiss this as something that is overhyped. That being said, it really is pretty cool. 

A PBS Nova special on Wednesday night really put it into context. An incredible coincidence is needed for a solar eclipse to happen. The Sun is 400 times the size of the moon and the moon is 400 times closer to the Earth than the sun. The ratio of size and distance to make this happen is really mind blowing. For me, it puts all the hype into some kind of perspective. 

History of eclipses and humans noticing

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Eclipses started soon after the Earth and Moon were formed around four billion years ago, but humans have only been around so long, so when did they look up and notice? There are records in China dating back to 1200 BC mentioning the eclipse. Before that are clues in Ireland dating back to 3340 BC.

Both the Bible and the Quran mention eclipses and link them to important events.  

Several ancient cultures viewed a solar eclipse as a sign of doom or destruction. Ancient Greeks saw a solar eclipse as a sign the gods were angry at the king. 

Cultures from the Egyptian, Chinese, African, Inuit, Vikings, and many others all attributed the disappearance of the Sun to some supernatural occurrence.  

Even with our scientific explanation of what is happening with an eclipse, superstitions still persist. 

So, what are people in Bedford doing for the eclipse?  Here is a random sample of what some of our neighbors are doing.

Anna S.

What are you doing for the eclipse?

My boyfriend and I are traveling to Indianapolis to visit some friends who are throwing an eclipse party. Indianapolis and the surrounding area are in the path of totality and the towns have some pretty grand celebrations and activities throughout the weekend leading up to the event. It should be a fun trip! Plus, it is a great excuse to visit somewhere we may not otherwise.

How long have you planned on going to see the eclipse?

Our friends have had this trip planned since last May, I believe, so it’s been planned for a while. One friend lives in the greater Indy area and is a planner, so I think she heard the towns were making it a big event and she thought it a great time to invite people out for a visit.

Are you watching it with a group?

Yes. I think in all there will be eight of us.

Have you ever seen an eclipse before?

I think so? There was one in the summer of 2017, although I don’t think I was in the viewing path. I don’t remember much of it aside from that I was on the lake that day and my mom warned me to be careful with the sun rays or what not. So, in comparison to this eclipse, it was just another day.

How interested are you in astronomy? Is the eclipse important or an excuse to get together?

The eclipse is just an excuse to celebrate for me. I am not that into astronomy. I find the sun, moon, and stars beautiful and this definitely is a special event but if someone else hadn’t made these plans and invited me I am not sure if I would have as much going on. It is a little hard to say though as it was planned so far in advance. Maybe I would have taken the drive to Burlington, VT to see the eclipse but for an event only a few minutes long on a Monday, that is a hard sell. At least in my case, it’s an event that coincides with other activities of interest and gives our trip a great theme. Plus, I am excited to hopefully see the eclipse. Please no clouds! Fingers crossed! In short, I like to celebrate both the little things and big events. An eclipse is happening? Why not celebrate!?

Irene & Sam Gravina

We are driving to Plattsburgh, NY. We have planned this since the last eclipse, six-and-a-half years ago. Yes, we have a family of four. But last time we ended up celebrating with strangers, so that could happen again. We just met them in the field we chose to watch from. Yes, last one. The eclipse is very important to my husband, who loves astronomy. I do too, as do my two daughters, but I don’t know if we’d actually be making the trip if it wasn’t for Sam’s enthusiasm. 

Craig J. 

What are you doing for the eclipse?  

We’re currently planning on being near Rochester, NY.

How long have you planned on going to see the eclipse?

I’ve planned since 2017. However, I made my hotel reservation in August 2023

Are you watching it with a group?

Just my wife and I.

Have you ever seen an eclipse before?

I travelled to Jefferson City, MO in 2017. (This was near Midwest relatives.)

How interested are you in astronomy?  Is the eclipse important or an excuse to get together?

I read astronomy magazines and books on the subject. My eyes aren’t really good enough for observational astronomy.

Katie O.

What are you doing for the eclipse?  

Going to Montpelier, VT area – driving up on Sunday and staying at a BnB run by an organization my sister-in-law belongs to (similar to the BnB run by UU). 

How long have you planned on going to see the eclipse?

Six weeks, since Joyce REALLY wants to see full blackout.

Are you watching it with a group?

My sister-in-law from Washington state and another friend

Have you ever seen an eclipse before?

Partial eclipse in 2017 with another Sister-in-law, Jerre (seems to be a sister-in-law theme here)

How interested are you in astronomy?   In other words, is the eclipse important or an excuse to get together?

I love to gaze at the stars and planets, and I have an app on my phone. But I do not know all that much. 

Bob B. & Doris S.

What are you doing for the eclipse?  

We are planning to see it at the Bedford Public Library with a group that is viewing it there.

How long have you planned on going to see the eclipse?

Ever since we heard that the eclipse could be seen from Bedford, about three months ago.

Have you ever seen an eclipse before?

Yes, we both have, when we were young and in more recent years in Bedford.

How interested are you in astronomy? Is the eclipse important or an excuse to get together?

We are both interested in astronomical events and science news in general.

Ralph H.

The Hemlock Lane neighborhood is holding a viewing event at 6 Hemlock Lane.

Ralph has been holding eclipse viewings since he built his first telescope back in the 1950s.

The first one with students took place his first year as a Bedford teacher at his Davis Road home on a Saturday morning. 

A good viewing took place when he was principal of the Davis School and had an 8 inch Reflector Scope that all the students got to experience that afternoon. 

Let’s hope we have only a few clouds.

Erin D.

What are you doing for the eclipse?  

I grew up in Essex, NY on Lake Champlain, my parents live there still and it is in the totality path, so we are going to play hookie from school and take the kids there!

How long have you planned on going to see the eclipse?

A little over a month since we realized the totality path…That said, leaving to go was always dependent on the weather. If it was going to be overcast, we would’ve just watched the “almost” totality here. 

Are you watching it with a group?

Just family

Have you ever seen an eclipse before?

Not that I can remember, my kids definitely not. 

How interested are you in astronomy? Is the eclipse important or an excuse to get together?  

Nah, just a cool thing that happens to be connected to a seeing it in my hometown!

Renu 

What are you doing for the eclipse?  

Going to visit family in Vermont.

How long have you planned on going to see the eclipse?

Many years, ever since we heard about the path going through Dan’s hometown.

Have you ever seen an eclipse before?

Only partial ones.

How interested are you in astronomy? Is the eclipse important or an excuse to get together?

An opportunity to gather with family for something special. But not sure we would have driven out of our way to see it otherwise.


Anita & Tim

What are you doing for the eclipse?  

We just left the Thursday snow for sunny Dallas. We have family friends in Richardson and plan on driving East to Terrell, TX to get to the center of the zone. 

How long have you planned on going to see the eclipse?

Since last fall. I’ve been following the Great American Eclipse page on Facebook.  

Are you watching it with a group? Just Tim and I and a crowd of 1,000s

Have you ever seen an eclipse before?

Anita saw it in 2017 in St Louis with a friend. I figure that I won’t want to schlep across the country in my 80s for 2044. 

How interested are you in astronomy? Is the eclipse important or an excuse to get together?

Absolutely worth seeing. My memories from 2017 are still so vivid.  

I was at a farm in Illinois. It got dark-ish. The sounds of the birds and other animals was amazing.  And yet it was a strange kind of quiet. 

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