Traveling eclipse viewers prefer the beach to totality – Coastal Observer


Traveling eclipse viewers prefer the beach to totality

Connor and Selena Gould arrived from Burlington, Vt., the day before the eclipse. They watch from the south end of Pawleys Island.

Connor and Selena Gould came from Burlington, Vt.

David and Cathy Whitehouse came from Rochester, N.Y. So did Dave and Patti Crean.

They watched through protective glasses as the moon edged across the face of the sun and the light over the south end of Pawleys Island became tinged with amber. In their mind’s eye, they could envision the same scene up north.

“We could be in the path of the whole thing,” David Whitehouse said.

Instead, they were enjoying spring at their condo at Pawleys Plantation, as were the Creans. They didn’t even consider swapping that for a look at Monday’s total eclipse that was visible to the folks back home. The 70 percent view from Pawleys Island would do.

The south end parking lot started to fill up as the eclipse began a little after 2 p.m.  Scott Murphy had been there since noon, setting up his Celestron NexStar telescope and tracking the sun’s path.

“This is the most important part,” he said, holding up the solar filter that fits on the end of the telescope.

Murphy had heard of do-it-yourself filters made from the plastic lining of snack food bags.

They weren’t worth the risk to eyesight or camera sensor, he said.

But when Christina Jenkins came by after a walk on the beach with her dog and lamented that she hadn’t bought eclipse glasses, Murphy didn’t hesitate to let her have a look at the nascent eclipse through his filter. He also shared a strip of solar filter with a Massachusetts man who had stopped on Pawleys to watch the eclipse before continuing south on a trip to Florida.

“That’s so awesome,” Jenkins said.

Even if the number of people watching the eclipse from Pawleys was a pale shadow of the crowds that packed the island in 2017, when it was on the northernmost edge of totality, it was still an essential stop for some.

Ruth Hunsinger drove from Apex, N.C., with her friend Liz Woelk, a New Yorker. “I mapped it out and this was the best place to park,” Hunsinger said.

They watched the eclipse from the parking lot because Woelk recently broke her foot. Afterward, they packed up and headed to Summerville, where Hunsinger’s father lives. They both said it was worth the detour.

Murphy, who lives in Hagley, often views the night sky from the south end because it is mostly free of light pollution. While this was the last total solar eclipse that will be visible from the contiguous 48 states until 2045, he has the total lunar eclipse (caused by the Earth passing between the sun and the moon) on his calendar for next March.

He’s not so sure about the next total solar eclipse.

“I’m 65. When I’m 85, I’m not lugging all this out here,” he said.

The telescope with a camera fitted to the viewfinder weighs about 90 pounds, he added.

But for now, it’s worth the effort.

“We don’t realize how small and insignificant we are,” Murphy said.

C.J. Uricks of Murrells Inlet is making plans for the 2026 solar eclipse. She plans to view it from Iceland.

Uricks wasn’t sure she would be home for this week’s eclipse, so she didn’t get a filter for her camera. She tried to adjust the settings on her iPhone to let her get pictures with eclipse glasses as a filter. It didn’t work as planned.

Cindi Simpson was also caught without a filter. She remembered watching the 2017 eclipse from her home in Murrells Inlet.

“I had a party at my house,” Simpson recalled. This year, “I really didn’t think we would see anything.”

Although the sky didn’t go dark, she was still impressed with the view of the crescent sun that she could see through her eclipse glasses.

Connor Gould also thought that was worth watching, particularly from the beach at Pawleys Island. He and Selena just moved to the area over the weekend from Vermont.

“It’s so packed” in anticipation of the eclipse, Connor said.

They never thought about delaying the move, even by a day.

“We just wanted to be at the beach,” Selena said.

Patti Crean thought about the traffic back in Rochester and the school and business closings prompted by the eclipse.

“In 20 minutes it will be over,” she said. “And we will still be at the beach.”



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