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Can't wait for the eclipse? Here's what it looked like in 1979

KOMO file photo.

SEATTLE - If you're more than 38 years old, you might remember it. In February 1979, crowds flocked to the Pacific Northwest for a chance to view from below as the moon blotted out the sun.

Now, almost four decades later, it's happening again - and more than 1 million people plan to gather in Oregon and Washington state to watch it, according to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

The rare total solar eclipse will occur Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, and will block out the sun from Oregon to South Carolina, officials say. Depending on where an observer is watching from will determine if a total or partial eclipse is visible.

The best place to view the eclipse in August will be in eastern Oregon, though people across all the lower 48 states will also see it.


After Aug. 21, this type of event won’t happen again until Oct. 14, 2023, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Thirty-eight years ago, a KOMO News crew boarded a plane and watched the event from the sky.

"We boarded our Alaska Airlines 720 at 7 a.m., and almost everyone carried a camera, a telescope or something designed to capture the event," the reporter says in the KOMO News archive footage. "As we climbed out of the clouds, hovering over Seattle ... we found the eclipse already beginning to take shape, the moon's form slowly imposing itself across the face of the sun."

The plane chased the eclipse eastward as it moved, keeping it in view for almost three minutes.

"I planned for this eclipse for about the last 20 years," said one passenger in the archive footage. "I saved the money to go wherever it was ... I'm delighted to have actually seen it."

A child on the plane described the eclipse as fire in the sky.

"It was absolutely wonderful ... it looked like a ring of fire or something like that," the girl said.

Another passenger described the event as spiritual.

"It's really a spiritual event," he said. "It's magnificent because it's so unique."




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