Vineyarders revel in the sun’s eclipse

The rare phenomenon was made even more special with public viewing events, equipment brought from home, and even a wedding.


In conjunction with observers from around the continent, Vineyarders basked in a near-total solar eclipse on Monday. 

On the Island, residents took in the celestial sights outside workplaces and homes; students gathered outside of school to catch a glance; there were viewing parties at the down-Island public libraries and the Martha’s Vineyard Museum; and a couple got married at Edgartown town hall.

At the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, hundreds gathered on the front and back lawns, with many seated on picnic blankets.

At the height of the excitement at about 3:29 pm, with the sun about 93 percent blocked out by the moon, the crowds looked upwards through protective gear to see just a sliver of the sun visible. Multiple observers also noted a drop in temperature.

Of everyone at the museum, perhaps the best seat in the house was that of Arthur Battisinti, watching the eclipse safely on a smartphone connected to his Hestia telescope. “This is the first [eclipse] that I’ve had technology to assist [me],” Battisinti said.

“I ordered [the telescope] on Kickstarter like a year ago, and I just got it last week,” Battisinti added. “The glasses work pretty well too.”

For Angel Morris, eclipse glasses were the reason she showed up at the museum — they were providing them for free — but she decided to take in the sights there as well. “I figured, what a place to see it. It’s a beautiful view.”

For many of the Vineyard’s viewers, specialized glasses came courtesy of the Space Science Institute’s Solar Eclipse Activities for Libraries (SEAL) program, and were distributed at the Vineyard’s public libraries. SEAL’s glasses, thousands of times darker than regular sunglasses, are certified for “direct solar viewing.”

And on Monday morning, several libraries and businesses on-Island had run out of their stock. In Oak Bluffs on Monday, public library officials said that they had given away all of 2,000 glasses.

But for many at the museum, like Storm Swain and Stephen Harding, sharing glasses was the way to go.

“We got to the end of the line and we got one pair between the two of us, and then we shared it with two other people that came along,” Swain said. “So, we didn’t get the sense of sitting there watching the motion, but we got the sense of being in a community watching it, and that was really cool.”

Ethan Hall was sharing a pair with the Miner family in the museum’s backyard. This was Hall’s second eclipse following 2017’s event. “I saw one in 2017 in Colorado, and that was pretty cool,” said Hall. “It was pretty similar to being almost total, like this one. Very similar percentage.”

In Edgartown on Monday, the eclipse itself was eclipsed by the wedding of Oak Bluffs resident Christopher Stam and Marina Solovykh.

Reached on Tuesday, Christopher said that it was a coincidence that they decided to be married on the day of the eclipse. April 8 happened to be the eighth year anniversary from when they started dating, and they wanted to get married on the same date.

Some of their friends tried to talk them out of marrying on the eclipse, but Stam said he was glad they did, noting the photo shoots with his family decked out in formal attire and wearing eclipse glasses.

“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said.

It was also a coincidence that they were sworn in as a married couple right near the apex of the eclipse, with the moon all but covering the sun at about 3:30.

“[An eclipse is a beautiful omen for a marriage,” Stam said. “It’s a wonderful day with the family and had a strange energy in the air, but we loved every minute of it.”

It was also the first time that town clerk Karen Medeiros had wed someone during an eclipse. Medeiros did wed another couple that day, though just one at the pinnacle of the phenomenon. “It was interesting,” she said. “The eclipse was nice.”

In addition to the memories made on Monday, many viewers still hold eclipse memories going back much farther.

Dan Williams, viewing from the museum, recalled an eclipse from his early teen years in the 1970s, when eclipse-viewing technology was a bit different. “[That] one was darker, but you also had to look at it through a pinhole [camera],” Williams said.

“I expected [this eclipse] to be a little bit darker, but it had a nice coverage,” Williams added. “I didn’t expect the temperature to drop like it did … but it definitely did. I’m impressed — glad I didn’t drive anywhere.”

“The last full eclipse I saw was on the banks of the Charles River, in Cambridge in the 1960s,” said Frank Bergon, seated with family in the Museum’s backyard garden. “And I remember it getting much darker. But we were right by the Harvard dorms, and as soon as it started getting light again, somebody had a big boom box in the window, and they played Richie Havens — ‘Here comes the sun, little darling.'”

Museum officials were pleased with Monday’s turnout. “They weren’t expecting nearly this size [of a] crowd.” said Phil Regan of the museum’s board of directors.

Monday afternoon’s eclipse was much more complete on the Island compared to 2017, when only 65 percent of the sun was covered. NASA says that the next total solar eclipse in the United States will occur in 2044.


  1. I went up to Errol Nh. to get 1:20 of total eclipse.
    Total is very different than 99%.
    It was great. But I was staying about 40 miles south
    of Errol in Gorham Nh. on the way back,all was good until we got about 6 1/2
    miles away from Gorham. It took over 2 hours to cover
    that last 6 1/2 miles . When we arrived in Gorham, There was a traffic light
    that was causing the bottleneck. So I thought that I would call
    the Gorham police department and ask them to put a few
    officers there to let people through the light.
    I was staying on rt 2– the main road to Maine .
    About 10 minutes after my call, traffic on rt 2 heading
    east picked up dramatically. I called the police back and they
    confirmed they had officers there, and thanked me for letting them
    know about the problem. I am sure by that time there was a 6 hour
    traffic jam with thousands of cars. I was very happy that I called.
    “See something , say something” . But I’m not writing this to toot
    my horn. I’m sharing this because I know that it reduced the idling
    of thousands of cars, presumably mostly filled with liberals,
    and that must piss andy off to no end.
    You can let your car idle all you want now andy… you won’t
    top that one.

    • Good grief, Charlie Brown.

      It’s official. You really can make anything political and combative. Even a beautiful, natural event. How exhausting. No pun intended.

      I didn’t get to view it, but I’m glad so many were able to enjoy something a bit special.

  2. Keller you slipped in “”andy “” small caps to get it past Sam—very clever. But your provocation doesn’t work because thousands of liberals were car idling for hours when the could have watched on TV.

    • “The problem is that those of us who care
      about using less energy have already adjusted and
      in fact have no low hanging fruit to pick.”

      Andrew, it’s unlikely much thought goes into liberals’ comments about the environment. One week we read that immigrants seeking asylum should install rich-people eco devices in their homes– for the tax credits, no less, and we all should buy $70K cars. Then someone else can tell us how they’ve already adjusted to using less energy– except when they contribute to traffic jams, but phone the police to say they’re stuck in a traffic jam they’ve contributed to, lol. It’s liberal hypocrisy. Unless someone walks or bikes to Maine from the island, for their personal fun, not for something bare bones essential, that says they have not adjusted their anything. Being part of selfish consumers of energy is no reason to brag and pretend that you are not. No one is perfect, but bragging about getting caught in traffic you helped cause?

      Here in NYC the eclipse was not that thrilling, but it never occured to me to be part of the traveling sheep show wasting all that energy going to somewhere else. My daughter who lives in Cleveland had the best view and photos and it was thrilling for me to hear her talk about what she described as the most amazing thing she’d ever seen. Whether you’re awed by an eclipse or by the smooth heart-shaped stone you find on the beach, the world we are supposed respect has many gifts for us. If only…

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