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Solar Eclipse captivates Granite Staters in Coos County. My firsthand experience of witnessing Totality.

Updated: Apr 25

Designed by MHT Aviation

April 10, 2024 | On April 8, 2024, New Hampshire got the opportunity to witness the Moon eclipse the Sun, making daytime temporarily go dark under the moon's umbra.

Communities and State officials prepared extensively to ensure that everything would go smoothly.

Coos County, the northernmost portion of New Hampshire, fell under the path of Totality, an area where the Moon fully eclipses the Sun, exposing the Corona of the Sun as the Moon passes in front of the Sun.

The Path of Totality passed in Coos County. 5 towns were in the path or at the edge of Totality. Not to scale.

Towns like Milan only got a minimum of 10 seconds of Totality, whereas Pittsburg got 3 minutes and 16 seconds within the town limits. People traveled closer to the Canadian border near the Connecticut Lakes State Forest to experience up to 3 Minutes and 25 seconds of Totality, due to its proximity to the center of the Totality line.

Cities like Nashua, Manchester, Concord, and Portsmouth only experienced a 95 to 96 percent partial eclipse, where the sun was not fully covered by the sun. Although these cities and towns got to see a partial eclipse, it was still amazing for those who were able to feel the temperature drop just a few degrees. Places like Mount Washington got to see a 99.99 percent Partial Eclipse, which was very close to totality, but just shy of actual totality. This type of partial eclipse only showed the very thin crescent of the sun and can also show only the Diamond Ring and Bailey's beads, but not fully blocking the sun, thus still considered a partial eclipse.

Cities and Towns not in the Path of Totality experienced a Partial eclipse, as seen here from Pittsburg, NH.

I along with my brother and a friend, traveled up to Pittsburg, New Hampshire on Sunday, April 7, 2024, to secure a spot at the Connecticut Lakes State Park, one mile from the Canadian Border. Many people camped out in their vehicles, and it was a cold and clear night, where the stars shone brightly in the light pollution-free part of the State. Although The Spot was about 30 minutes away from the town itself, there was no cell service provided, which meant no internet was available.

It was nice to not have internet for once as it forced me to enjoy the moment as it should be. I brought all of my cameras with me, along with three Tripods. I was upset I could not livestream the event as I wanted, but it allowed me to watch without feeling the need to adjust the phone all the time.

After around 8 am EDT, more people began to come from all over, with the majority coming from the lower New England States, and as far west as Pennsylvania. Border Patrol, Local Police, and State Police frequently patrolled the only street that led back to town. New Hampshire Fish and Games were also Patrolling as well, making sure people moved along and did not block the roadway.

Pittsburg, New Hampshire at Night, clear skies at night allowed the stars to show more compared to Light polluted cities like Manchester.

We were very lucky to have Clear skies all around, a very rare opportunity where the weather cooperated and was clear all around to experience the eclipse with no clouds in sight. The weather a week before was forecasted to be partly cloudy, but as days passed leading up to the Eclipse, the weather changed to clear skies until the end of the eclipse, where high cirrus clouds would come in, although that did not interfere with the eclipse itself.

With clear skies, New Hampshire and Maine became the prime spot for the Total Eclipse, as everyone last minute in places where the totality was clouded over, drove many hours to see the totality in either New Hampshire, Vermont, or Maine. Pittsburg, New Hampshire was the prime spot for Totality as it held the most time in the path at just over 3 minutes. Although I arrived the day before, many locals and out of staters packed I-93 where traffic was slow-moving as people tried to get to Northern New Hampshire.

Lines of cars began to build up near 10 am Eastern Time as the day progressed.

People parked on the side of the road, and some parked far away and walked down to this area to set up.

A Typical area for launching boats for fly fishing instead became a hotspot where people came to see the Eclipse.

I set up the Eclipse timer on my secondary phone, as recommended by many Eclipse photographers and enthusiasts, and waited for first contact, even without the Internet, the App worked as intended by using GPS data to plot the Phone's location. It felt like forever as I glanced over at my watch in anticipation of when the eclipse would begin. I chatted with people around and many came after viewing the Total Eclipse back in 2017, with some saying this is their second eclipse they will see. This was my first ever Total Eclipse, and for some, it was also their first as well.

As 2 pm rolled around, it was almost time for first contact, so filters came on and I began to take photos of the sun before the moon began to eclipse in front of the sun.

The Moon began eclipsing the sun at 2:17 pm EDT, dubbed First Contact and the Eclipse officially began.

After what felt like forever, first contact occurred, and so began the Eclipse in New Hampshire. Many photographers took the opportunity to photograph the first "Bite" of the Sun from the Moon. Of course, I used a Solar Filter and also used Eclipse Glasses to view the progression of the Eclipse.

Over time, the skies got darker, and the temperature began to noticeably drop as it got colder on a rather warm April day (Close to 50 degrees Fahrenheit). The Eclipse was to last around 2 or so hours, so everyone became more excited as the Moon occluded the Sun more and more.

Eventually, I set up my phone to capture the full Eclipse once it got dark enough and before the "Second Contact". My secondary phone notified the impending second contact by occasionally counting down in 10-second increments. As the Sliver of the Sun remained, the Eclipse app then began a ten-second countdown to Totality.

Nearing Second Contact, the crescent of the Sun shrunk more and more, eventually leading to the Diamond Ring and Baily's beads before fully eclipsing the Sun.

It got darker and darker, it was very surreal, and everyone around began to cheer and applaud as the Diamond Ring came into view. Shadow bands raced along the ground, and in the distance, the Umbra shadow of the Moon came into view, as Day turned into night, with Venus slowly coming into view, before becoming as bright as seen beginning at dusk.

After just a few moments of waiting and anticipation, the time has arrived and the Moon officially Eclipsed the Sun as everyone around cheered loudly and applauded such a beautiful natural phenomenon.

The Sun becomes fully eclipsed, with the Corona exposed at 3:28 pm Eastern Time.

Totality Officially Began!

It happened, the Moon officially Eclipsed the Sun, and the Corona became super bright. I had already removed my solar filters off my cameras and also was the only time I could view the Eclipse without the glasses on. Although Photos and videos can give just an idea of how the Eclipse looked like, in reality, the Moon looked a lot bigger. The Moon was pitch black, with the Corona's wispy atmosphere towering all around the sides of the moon. You can faintly see the Corona move ever so slowly. It got very dark, and cold, but all around it was like seeing a sunset all around.

The Eclipse app began counting down the time, as we only had just 3 Minutes and 25 Seconds of Totality, which was just enough time to take in the spectacle and photograph as much as we wanted. Camera shutters were firing left and right all around us as people frantically took photos of the Eclipse, trying to get the best shot possible, some didn't have cameras and just soaked in the beauty of the Eclipse itself, which is just as amazing without a camera, as taking it in oneself is just as amazing and memorable, although photos and videos can allow the revisit of memories.

The raw reactions from everyone were just awe-inspiring. Some cried at the amazing sight of the Eclipse, and some were overjoyed at the sight. I could not believe how amazing it was to witness such an amazing thing right in my home state, without having to travel far. Soon, the Eclipse app Announced, "Max Eclipse", as the Moon reached the closest point where it obscured most of the Sun's disc.

Totality over the Lakes in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, showing the dusk-like appearance all around, and the planet Venus shining brightly in the lower right of the eclipse. The Moon can be seen faintly in the photo as the Sun's corona shines brightly.

As Totality continued, people continued to snap away with their phones and cameras. Eventually, the Eclipse App began to announce, "Third Contact in 1 minute", and so I took more photos. The third contact was when the moon began to leave, and Daylight would officially return.

The Three Minutes of Totality did almost feel like a long time, but before we knew it, the App then announced that we had just 20 seconds of Totality remaining. Then, as if in reverse, sunshine began to peak again with Bailey's beads and then the Diamond Ring returned, signifying the end of Totality.

The famous Diamond Ring effect as Totality Ended at 3:31 pm Eastern Time. the Solar Prominence can be seen as red Solar flares on the left and right of the sunshine.

A few minutes after the third contact the remaining Partial Eclipse began.

Totality Ends, and chaos ensues.

Once Totality had ended, many people packed up and flocked to their cars and began to drive home. I elected to stay and view the entirety of the eclipse, from start to finish to create a composition of phases of the eclipse, where my brother and our friend packed up and went to the car. Daylight sun returned and the eclipse continued to wind down as the fourth contact drew closer.

As soon as the Moon left the edge of the Sun, that was when I packed up and then went into my car, and the journey home began, and the drive home was to be a memorable one just as the eclipse was.

Once the Moon left the Sun, as seen here nearing the end, I packed up we began our trip home.

Everyone knew that the traffic was going to be bad, but we never expected it to be very bad. It took us three hours just to reach Lancaster, New Hampshire, and another three hours to reach Route 3 in the Franconia Notch, where traffic got so bad, that it was gridlocked to the point that cars didn't even move an inch. It was made worse as Route 3 converged into the already gridlocked I-93 Southbound Lane, where the Franconia Notch only had one lane each way, and exits were blocked to prevent people from making further constraints to the side roads, which didn't work out as planned by the DOT, as it just made it worse.

Northern New Hampshire was not built to handle such traffic, but for about 7 hours, it was just as bad as traffic in Los Angeles and New York. It took us 8 hours to get from Pittsburg, New Hampshire back to Manchester, New Hampshire by taking the alternate route towards Durham, NH, and taking Route 28 with no traffic.

Although it was an exhausting trip back, the 3 minutes in Totality was worth it. It is something I will never forget. The Next Total eclipse in New Hampshire will occur in May 2079, around 55 years from now.

The Complete Eclipse from Left to Right, with Totality in the center.

A look at what the Eclipse Progression looked like overlayed on the image shared above in the blog.


Thank you for reading!

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