Total Solar Eclipse 38 Years Ago Ended With Moving Message for 2017

Sun eclipse 1970
A total eclipse of the sun, observed by the Harvard College Observatory in 1970. Fox Photos/Getty Images

The last total solar eclipse to pass over North America was in 1979, and one ABC News anchor had high hopes for the generation who would experience the astronomical phenomenon 38 years later.

Frank Reynolds covered the eclipse on February 26, 1979. The broadcaster guided viewers as the eclipse approached totality, the period during which the sun’s photosphere is completely covered by the moon, across the U.S. in a 30-minute-long special report.

The clouds cleared over Helena, Montana, just on time to show the two-and-a-half-minute-long totality bringing darkness over cheerful crowds.

“The last solar eclipse to be seen on this continent in this century. As I said, not until August 21, 2017, will another eclipse be visible from North America,” Reynolds said in the excerpt from the clip, now available on YouTube.

“That’s 38 years from now,” he continued. “May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace.”

The world in 2017 is far from being at peace, as it is still plagued by tensions over territorial disputes, sectarian violence, civil wars and armed insurgencies, with more than 30 conflicts unfolding around the globe, as tracked by the Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN) in April 2017.

By comparison, at the beginning of 1979 there were around 25 conflicts taking place around the world, as an article in the Australian press detailed at the time.

Reynolds, who was 54 at the time of the total solar eclipse, died in July 1983 aged 60. That was the last total solar eclipse he experienced, but his hope for peace still echoes through the decades, and eclipses, that followed.

During Monday’s eclipse the shadow of the moon will cast darkness upon the North American continent for around two minutes. This will be the first time a total solar eclipse has moved from coast to coast in 99 years.

The next time the North American continent will see a total solar eclipse will be in April 2024 and then again in August 2045.