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Solar Eclipse in 1918

1918 Solar eclipse in KansasPeople in Kansas were eager to observe a nearly total eclipse on Saturday, June 8, 1918. The eclipse began around 3:30 p.m. (Central time) at a point south of Japan in the Pacific Ocean, the line continued to the northeast to five hundred miles south of Alaska, and southeast toward the mouth of the Columbia River. By 6:42 p.m. the eclipse could be seen near Orlando, Florida, and on to the Atlantic Ocean.

In Kansas the line passed from southwest to southeast, but people across the state took time out of their day to see the moon’s shadow. Newspapers reported that in Dodge City, where the eclipse was total for 30 seconds, the sky turned so black the stars were plainly visible. The temperature dropped 28 degrees.

Scientists from the Smithsonian and Carnegie institutes erected a large telescope in Lakin and photographed “great sheets of flame” shooting out from the edges of the sun, reported the Columbus Daily Advocate.

Youngsters to old folks in Ottawa had just one concern that afternoon, according to the Ottawa Herald. They used pieces of glass salvaged from junk piles, smoked over candles, or paper to view the sun’s eclipse. “By 6 o’clock it was very plain and its presence was indicated by the long and strange shadows that fell across the east,” the Herald reported. “There was a generally hazy and smoky condition prevalent. Later in the evening the eclipse cleared and the sun went down without any spots on it.”

Clouds in the sky made for difficult gazing as thousands of people in Wichita tried to glimpse the eclipse between 5 and 7 p.m. The first contact was noted at 5:23 p.m., the maximum observation was at 6:29 p.m., when for one minute 30 seconds 97 percent of the sun was obscured. Wichita experienced twilight and silvery light was diffused through the drifting clouds. People in Salina gathered on the streets, their necks twisted uncomfortably, to see the eclipse. The film of cloud over the sun provided a bit of eye protection along with the smoked eye glasses.

The skies were clear in Topeka so observers could see for a few moments 93 percent totality around 6:22 p.m. The clouds parted in Chanute just in time for the sun to be visible the entire period. “A peculiar phenomenon, observed by many, was that during the period of greatest obstruction the image cast by the sun where its rays filtered thru the leaves of shade trees were crescent shaped,” the Chanute Daily Tribune reported. “This was a remarkable sight—moon-shaped patches of sunshine in the midst of shadows.” The newspaper reported that it was the greatest obscuration of the sun in the vicinity since July 29, 1872, although the eclipse of January 1, 1889, was of considerable magnitude.

People in Columbus in the far southeast corner were the last to view the 1918 eclipse in Kansas. Around 6:15 p.m. near Columbus 91 percent of the sun was covered by the moon, reducing the sun light to only one-tenth the usual amount. “through the smoked glass at that moment, the sun resembled a new moon,” the Columbus Daily Advocate reported. “At the darkest period, people turned on the electric lights in their homes as it was just at supper time. Chickens did not go to roost, but they manifested some nervousness.” The newspaper reported there would not be another total eclipse over such as great stretch of land until 2017.

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Chanute Daily Tribune, June 10, 1918

Columbus Daily Advocate, June 10, 1918

Ottawa Herald, June 10, 1918

Wichita Daily Eagle, June 9. 1918

Wichita Daily Eagle, June 10, 1918

Salina Evening Journal, June 10, 1918

Entry: Solar Eclipse in 1918

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: August 2017

Date Modified: January 2018

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.