Hi, my name is Kevin Milani, professor of chemistry and astronomy at Hibbing Community College in Hibbing, Minnesota. I’d like to relate to you one of my astronomical memories.
The last total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States was on February 26, 1979. I remember consulting Sky and Telescope magazine for the details of the eclipse, and decided that Wolf Point, Montana was the best place to view this event, since it was on the center-line of the path of totality, and was a reasonable driving distance from my home in Minnesota. I managed to talk three of my friends into joining me, and we made the long drive on the 25th from Minneapolis, where we were all living at the time, across Minnesota, then the frozen tundra of North Dakota to the eastern part of Montana and Wolf Point. I remember the snow drifts on either side of the highway in Montana being 8-10 feet high in places. Now Wolf Point is a very small community, and we stayed in the only motel in town at the time. We were up early on the morning of the eclipse since the partial phases began shortly after breakfast. The morning was cold but clear, and I still remember the eerie darkness when totality hit. It was truly a spectacular show! One of the photos I took of totality hangs on the wall in my office to this day.
Now, upon returning home, I had to look up when the next total eclipse would be visible in the United States. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the date of August 21, 2017. I still remember the 22 year old me thinking, “My gosh, I’ll be an old man by then!”. Well, that date is now just months away, and the 60 year old me thinks, “Hmm, 60 isn’t all that bad!”