Remembering the total Solar Eclipse from 1963

Remembering the total Solar Eclipse from 1963

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Remembering the total Solar Eclipse from 1963

I have great eyesight in part because on July 20, 1963, my father showed me the proper way to view the total eclipse of the sun that took place that afternoon.

By Ray Hanania

My eyesight is great, in a large part because I didn’t look up at the Sun during the total eclipse of the Sun that took place on July 20, 1963.

Yes, we’ve had several total eclipses of the sun over the years an the eclipse touted this week on Monday August 21, 2017 isn’t the first spectacular event to darken the skies over planet Earth.

Or, make some people near blind.

Yes, it is dangerous to look up at the sun anytime. And it doesn’t get better when the moon finds itself precisely between Earth and the Sun creating a total eclipse of the Sun.

English: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. *...

Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. * Additional noise reduction performed by Diliff. Original image by Luc Viatour.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is amazing that the moon orbits the Earth at the precise distance that would make it seem to be as large as the Sun. The Moon is 2,158 miles wide (diameter) and the Sun is 864,575.9 miles wide (diameter). The moon’s distance from Earth fluctuates slightly coming closer and going further away so sometime, the moon just barely covers the Sun’s surface, creating a bright halo during the eclipse.

Seeing the total eclipse is determined by where you are watching on Earth. If you are precisely in the total eclipse path, you will see it. But, if you are outside of that path you will still see a partial eclipse of the total eclipse.

We are at O’Hare airport on July 20, 1963, preparing to travel to visit relatives. As the moon began to cover the Sun, my dad grabbed two pieces of white paper. He punched a small hole in one paper with the end of his pen. He held the paper with the tiny hole punched through it above the full sheet of paper at a distance of about 12 inches or so.

The light from the eclipse created an image of the actual eclipse on the paper below. You could literally watch as the moon darkened the sun.

Outside, the daylight began to fade and darken. It was pretty dark at the height of the event.

It was an amazing experience to witness, without looking up at the Sun and Moon covering it, chancing damaging our eyes.

The television news anchors cautioned everyone not to look at the sun, even indirectly. Even just for a few seconds, the bright light of the sun could quickly damage your eyesight.

It was a memorable moment I will never forget.

Thanks dad.

Photos of the August 21, 2017 Solar eclipse:

August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse from Chicago. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse from Chicago. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse from Chicago. Photo courtesy of NASA

August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse from Chicago. Photo courtesy of NASA

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This post has already been read 3307 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is

Email him at:

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
Ray Hanania