200 gather at Sweetgrass

Eclipse party in Union with pinholes and black shades

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 12:00pm

UNION—Elsewhere in the nation, those in the totality path of the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse got to enjoy a stretch of afternoon darkness, but in Maine, where people viewed a partial eclipse, a hot sunny afternoon prevailed, with little to no darkness to the naked eye. From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., approximately 200 people gathered on the lawns and decks of Sweetgrass Farms’ Winery and Distillery in Union for the eclipse. The afternoon was a perfect late summer day with families and friends lounging on the grass over picnics, walking tours around the vineyard, tastings and cocktails from the tasting room inside and tacos and crépes from Yum Bus, a visiting food truck.

At around 2:46 p.m. at the peak of the eclipse, many brought out their homemade pinhole cameras and eclipse glasses to get a partial viewing, with approximately 60 percent of the moon blocking the sun.

Ezra Shales and his children, Agnes,12, and Amos, 9, were a few of the participants who’d brought their own viewing equipment.

The homemade pinhole cameras were made simply from U-haul cardboard boxes poked with a small hole.

“Inside, you’re immersed and if you turn away from the sun, you can see the image of the eclipse on the inside of the box without hurting your eyes,” said Shales.

“The little beam of light was like the size of an oyster cracker inside, and I could see a tiny picture of how much the moon was blocking the sun,” said Agnes.

“There was light cloud cover during the eclipse so you could see these pretty, formations of the clouds beaming back into the box,” added Marla Dow.

The last total solar eclipse viewed from contiguous United States was on Feb. 26, 1979. Asked whether they remembered where they were at that time, Dow said: “I was in New Hampshire and vaguely remember that one, but I witnessed a total solar eclipse in London around 1999. It got completely dark and quiet in the middle of the city. Everything just kind of stopped.”

The next total solar eclipse that will be visible in Maine will be April 8, 2024. Asked where they would be then, Shales said,  “We will have bought tickets to the Sweetgrass Planetarium, which will probably have been built by then.”

“Which they will have been able to build solely on the sales of their gin and tacos from the last eclipse,” added Dow.

Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com