Solar eclipse of March 7, 1970

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Solar eclipse of March 7, 1970
Type of eclipse
Nature Total
Gamma 0.4473
Magnitude 1.0414
Maximum eclipse
Duration 208 sec (3 m 28 s)
Coordinates 18°12′N 94°42′W / 18.2°N 94.7°W / 18.2; -94.7
Max. width of band 153 km (95 mi)
Times (UTC)
Greatest eclipse 17:38:30
Saros 139 (27 of 71)
Catalog # (SE5000) 9442

The total solar eclipse of March 7, 1970 was visible across all of North America and Central America. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is larger than the Sun's, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth's surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometres wide. Totality was visible across southern Mexico and across the southeast coast of the United States and Canada. Greatest eclipse occurred over Mexico, with totality lasting 3 minutes and 28 seconds. Totality over the United States lasted up to 3 minutes and 10 seconds.[1] There will not be an eclipse with a greater duration of totality over the contiguous United States until the solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, a period of 54 years.

Scientific effects[edit]

The March 7 eclipse slowed a radio transmission of atomic time from North Carolina to Washington, D.C.[2]


Animation of eclipse path (3 minutes per frame)

Related eclipses[edit]

Solar eclipses of 1968-1971[edit]

Each member in a semester series of solar eclipses repeats approximately every 177 days and 4 hours (a semester) at alternating nodes of the Moon's orbit.

Saros 139[edit]

It is a part of saros series 139, repeating every 18 years, 11 days, containing 71 events. The series started with partial solar eclipse on May 17, 1501. It contains hybrid eclipses on August 11, 1627 through December 9, 1825 and total eclipses from December 21, 1843 through March 26, 2601. The series ends at member 71 as a partial eclipse on July 3, 2763. Members in the same column are one exeligmos apart and thus occur in the same geographic area.

The solar eclipse of June 13, 2132 will be the longest total solar eclipse since July 11, 1991 at 6 minutes, 55 seconds.

The longest duration of totality will be produced by member 39 at 7 minutes, 29 seconds on July 16, 2186.[3] This is the longest solar eclipse computed between 4000BC and 6000AD.[4]

Metonic series[edit]

The metonic series repeats eclipses every 19 years (6939.69 days), lasting about 5 cycles. Eclipses occur in nearly the same calendar date. In addition the octon subseries repeats 1/5 of that or every 3.8 years (1387.94 days).

In popular culture[edit]

CBS broadcast the first total eclipse in color.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

You’re So Vain[edit]

Carly Simon’s December 1972 pop hit “You’re So Vain” contains the lyric “Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun,” and *may* have been a reference to this eclipse, as opposed to the one also over Nova Scotia on July 10, 1972, because Simon first began writing the lyrics in 1971. However, it is possible that she knew of the latter in advance and realized that it would have been in the news some months previously by the time the song was actually released. For practical reasons, it would be more feasible for the wealthy vain subject of the song to have flown a Learjet to Nova Scotia for the 1972 eclipse because the 1970 one was visible in parts of the USA and Mexico where it was longer lasting and a much more pleasant climate to watch an eclipse from than Nova Scotia would have been in early March, so he might have been more likely to travel to one of those places. However, the song relates he was in Saratoga, New York, earlier, so Nova Scotia would have been a shorter trip. For the 1972 eclipse, on the other hand, Nova Scotia was the southernmost land mass along the totality path, so it would have been the best and most accessible place from which to watch it (most of the rest of the path was in the cold [even in July] lands of northeastern Siberia, northern Alaska, the northernmost tip of the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories and present-day Nunavut (then still part of the Northwest Territories). Since this one was in July, Nova Scotia would have been considerably more pleasant climate-wise than in early March.

This may also have been the eclipse mentioned in episode two of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–77), entitled "Today I am a Ma'am", which the character Howard Arnell (played by Richard Schaal) has photographs he took of it pre exposed and therefore ruined, whereupon he bemoans the fact that the next total eclipse over Minneapolis will not occur until the solar eclipse of September 14, 2099, although a partial would happen in 1979.


  1. ^ Espenak, Fred. "TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE OF 1970 MAR 07". NASA Eclipse Website. Goddard Space Flight Center. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Sadeh, D. (1971), Phase variation of a very accurate radio frequency signal due to the solar eclipse, J. Geophys. Res., 76(34), 8427–8429, doi:10.1029/JA076i034p08427
  3. ^ Saros Series Catalog of Solar Eclipses NASA Eclipse Web Site
  4. ^ Ten Millennium Catalog of Long Solar Eclipses, -3999 to +6000 (4000 BCE to 6000 CE) Fred Espinak
  5. ^ Mike Kentrianakis (10 March 2010). "Solar Eclipse 1970 March 7 CBS News 1 of 6". Retrieved 20 May 2017 – via YouTube. 
  6. ^ Mike Kentrianakis (10 March 2010). "Solar Eclipse 1970 March 7 CBS News 2 of 6". Retrieved 20 May 2017 – via YouTube. 
  7. ^ Mike Kentrianakis (10 March 2010). "Solar Eclipse 1970 March 7 CBS News 3 of 6". Retrieved 20 May 2017 – via YouTube. 
  8. ^ Mike Kentrianakis (10 March 2010). "Solar Eclipse 1970 March 7 CBS News 4 of 6". Retrieved 20 May 2017 – via YouTube. 
  9. ^ Mike Kentrianakis (10 March 2010). "Solar Eclipse 1970 March 7 CBS News 5 of 6". Retrieved 20 May 2017 – via YouTube. 
  10. ^ Mike Kentrianakis (10 March 2010). "Solar Eclipse 1970 March 7 CBS News 6 of 6". Retrieved 20 May 2017 – via YouTube. 
  11. ^ "60 Years Ago: The World's 1st Televised Solar Eclipse". Retrieved 20 May 2017. 
  12. ^ "NASA Remembers 1970 Solar 'Eclipse of the Century'". Retrieved 20 May 2017. 




Photos and observations