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  • Tri-County Independent

    These Wayne and Pike residents traveled to their second total solar eclipse

    By Peter Becker, Tri-County Independent,

    30 days ago

    Having two total solar eclipses crossing the continental United States only seven years apart meant that what for most would be a once-in-a-lifetime event became a chance to become a seasoned eclipse observer.

    Two area residents who joined those ranks shared their stories of having not one, but two, of the most amazing encounters with the dark umbral shadow of the moon.

    Joseph Fluhr from Hawley, a passionate science teacher at Lehman Intermediate School, observed his second total solar eclipse under clear skies April 8 from Lake Placid, New York. Jack Slipe of Bushkill was in Erie and caught an amazing view as the eclipse appeared in a fortuitous break in the clouds.

    Both had seen the 2017 solar eclipse from different areas of Tennessee.

    Joseph Fluhr's account

    "My family and I had the fortune of having a once in a lifetime experience, TWO times! We were once again blessed with clear blue skies at the moment of totality...

    "The place was absolutely jammed but you felt an excitement and electricity in the air as all everyone was talking was the big event the next day."

    The Fluhrs chose to watch the eclipse from the Olympic Jumping Complex at Lake Placid. This town in the Adirondacks was the site for the 1980 Winter Olympics.

    "High cirrus clouds moved in early, and the forecast had generated a lot of uncertainty and worry, but the clouds remained thin... until the afternoon hours."

    Blue sky appeared just before 3 p.m.

    "3:25 hit and that familiar dark wind kicked up just as totality hit. My whole family knew what it meant, and that absolute magnificence would shortly surround us. Shadows faded and the temperature dropped like a rock from the balmy 54 degrees in the Adirondacks to the point you started to shiver and even see your breath. Then there it was, familiar, yet different, as glorious as I remember!

    "Due to the solar cycle the Sun was far more active this time around, which made for some noticeable differences...The thinner, flatter ring of fire with sparkles was replaced by a much more robust corona. Thicker, brighter, and more energetic.

    "The moon was just as black as before but rather than looking like a hole ... it seemed more three dimensional, like a vortex or wormhole to another world. Much deeper. And the ring of fire was pulsing in and out almost as though the Sun itself was 'breathing', trying to be seen from behind its celestial partner stealing the show for a moment.

    "Venus, Jupiter and Saturn partnered with the stars of the show along with many other stars.

    "As before, there were many spectators who expressed shock, awe, shed tears and hugged as the emotional experience went on.

    “Shortly before the Sun began to reappear creating the legendary diamond ring effect, there was an incredible bright solar flare/prominence that erupted from the Sun at the bottom. As though the mother star had one final treat for the finale. It looked as though someone took a giant red laser pointer and aimed it just below the erupting Sun's emergence. It was almost a fluorescent red or almost pink at the bottom of the ring of fire...

    "At that moment, the Sun returned with its rapidly expanding light. The yellow tinted light that preceded the eclipse returned allowing a flock of birds that scrambled for cover in a nearby tree before the event to return to the sky. Only the Adirondack mountains in the distance, that had provided the facade of a 360-degree sunset continued to speak of the amazing experience we just had as they remained in the Moon's shadow for a few moments more while the rest of us returned to an environment of normalcy.

    Fluhr reflected, "With how incredible this event is, one has to wonder if there's a higher power creating it for us simple humans to appreciate the power and magnitude of nature.... As a two-time veteran viewer with clear skies now I can confirm with no doubt, it truly is 'totality' worth it!"

    Jack Slipe's account

    Jack Slipe and his wife Maureen arrived at Erie the day before, and were joined by his son Eric, Eric's wife Lizzy, and their dog Jax. Sunshine on Sunday gave way to clouds and light rain on eclipse day; the forecast was gloomy.

    "The clouds were mid-level, and there appeared to be some thinner areas where the sunlight looked like it was trying to come through. We kept our fingers crossed.

    "We could see breaks in the clouds, and blue skies just off to the west. Miraculously, just as the eclipse started at 2:00, the clouds parted for the show. Over the next hour and a half, we basically could see everything right through totality.

    "It was amazing. As we got to around 99% coverage, you could definitely tell it was getting darker, but not until we hit totality did it get totally dark. We could see the endless sunset around the horizon. There was a huge crowd a little closer to downtown for the event, and you could hear them cheering as totality began."

    He compared this eclipse with the one they witnessed in 2017.

    "This time we were on a grassy surface, and we didn't see the 'shimmering' effect that we saw the last time right before totality; possibly because we were on asphalt when viewing the eclipse in Nashville. The birds seemed to quiet down more the last time. In Erie, there were a lot of sea gulls screeching before, during, and after totality. They never quieted down. The corona also looked different. In 2017, it almost looked like an arrow shape, with one side appearing to be pointed, and the other to have two longer 'tails.'

    "In Erie, the corona appeared to be more symmetrical and even around the moon. But we did see in Erie something we did not see at all in Nashville. Very clearly, on the bottom of the moon, there appeared to be a very bright, very red, light. It wasn't the sun itself, because that was completely covered, but it was very clear and noticeable, even to all of us, with the naked eye. Later we would learn from watching reviews on the Weather Channel that this was a solar flare. So awesome!

    "After over 3 1/2 minutes of totality the sun re-emerged, and the 'diamond ring' effect was beautiful.

    "My daughter-in-law Lizzy captured totality with her cell phone, through a few clouds. We were so lucky that the clouds parted for us, just in time, to witness this rare event."

    Next eclipses

    Keep your solar glasses handy. Partial solar eclipses will be visible from the Poconos, clouds permitting, on:

    • March 9, 2025 (17.1% covered)
    • Aug. 12, 2026 (9.3%)
    • Jan. 26, 2028 (2.3%)

    Peter Becker has worked at the Tri-County Independent or its predecessor publications since 1994. Reach him at or 570-253-3055 ext. 1588.

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