We earthlings are very lucky to have our sun.
Even at 30 percent power, it’s plenty bright and warm, as legions of star-gazers discovered in Morris Township on Monday afternoon.
“It looked like the moon was on fire!” said 10-year-old Jake Fehnel of Mendham. Asked if he now might consider an astronomy career, the rising 5th grader replied: “Just from looking at this, I probably will. It’s so cool.”
While Karen Lontka of the astronomical society attempted to focus a pinpoint projection of the eclipse through tiny holes poked in a cereal box, others queued up for a glimpse through filtered telescopes and binoculars that magnified the celestial scene between 10- and 200 times, bringing sunspots into view.
“It was worth the wait… It looks fake, it’s so perfect,” said actress Emily Williams of Wharton.
Tyler Urrutia, 17, and his pals from Morris Plains photographed the moon passing before the sun through filters they rigged for their cameras.
“We’re all photography nerds,” he said. “It’s just a cool event to see. It’s historical.”
Sharon Battaglino, a Mendham realtor, had to think twice before peering skyward, even with the ISO-approved safety glasses. About 350 pairs were distributed for sharing.
“It’s strange because we never look at the sun. On a normal day you can’t look at the sun. It’s hard. But it’s good with the glasses,” she said.
A fail-safe option was inside. NASA’s coverage was live-streamed on a giant screen in the museum’s Bickford Theatre.
Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin
Shannon Vitolo of Morristown brought sons Jackson, 8, and Christian, 5, to the museum after paying a Fairfield photo shop $25 for a pair of safety glasses that resemble cardboard 3D movie goggles.
The eclipse “looked like a really skinny half-moon,” Jackson said.
“Totality”–the eclipse maximum–occurred at about 2:44 pm, with clear skies. Billowing clouds danced in shortly thereafter.
Nobody seemed to mind that nothing dramatic happened. Birds did not go crazy. Bats did not go batty. No one needed any flashlights to navigate what looked pretty much like any sunny day with passing clouds. The atmosphere was festive.
“It’s amazing, just to get an opportunity to see this,” said Jason Marum, a rising sophomore at Morristown High School.
Attorney Zena Hardy brought her kids, Jalen, 12, and Maya, 9, from South Orange to participate in what felt to the mom like an outdoor science class.
“You don’t get to see it that often. It doesn’t really happen in the U.S. It happens over water,” Maya said of solar eclipses.
The next one visible here is not until 2024. Victoria Fanning will be ready.
A winner at the 2017 Morristown’s Got Talent contest, the Morristown High School singer and actress on Monday led a chorus of relatives from Arizona, California and England in an impromptu musical tribute to our fiery orb.
Total Eclipse of the Heart needed a little work. But, as you can see in the video clip, Here Comes the Sun is right in the Fanning family’s wheelhouse.
The Morris Museum Astronomical Society meets on the first Thursday of every month at 7 pm, and all are welcome, said member Ron Schmahl.