A New Year’s Eclipse

A New Year’s greeting card from 1888. NSHS 7631-54

The most memorable feature of New Year’s Day in Nebraska in 1889 was a solar eclipse that occurred between three and four o’clock in the afternoon. The Omaha Daily Bee on December 23, 1888, had announced: “The new year will make its debut with an eclipse of the sun, which will be total on the Pacific slope, and partial in these parts. Very few of the present generation have seen a solar eclipse on New Year’s day.”  

The Bee reported on January 2: “Here in Omaha about four-fifths of the sun was covered by the dark body of the moon about 4 o’clock, at which time the light was sickly and wan. . . . The sun looked like a crescent through smoked glass, but in spite of the moon’s bad behavior, what was left of his sunship was too powerful to be regarded by the naked eye.”  

The eclipse was also a major attraction in Lincoln. The Capital City Courier reported on January 5 that thousands of persons there “began to look for the great blot about three o’clock, but it was not until about four o’clock that the eclipse presented its most beautiful appearance.”  

From Mabel Loomis Todd, Total Eclipses of the Sun (Boston, 1900).

In McCook the eclipse was described by the McCook Tribune on January 4 as a “beautiful vision, . . . During a certain stage in the proceedings the sight was truly sublime, even to the naked eye.” — Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor/Publications

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