Residents and visitors alike took a break from their day to step outside and look up at the sky for Monday’s solar eclipse.
Though Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands were outside of the “path of totality” – a 70 mile wide path that extended from Oregon to Charleston, SC – the southern Outer Banks nevertheless experienced roughly 90% coverage, which made the region a prime viewing destination for catching the show.
Visitors and locals who had solar eclipse glasses or old-school pinhole viewers easily had the best view of the eclipse, and were able to watch as the moon drifted past the sun during a roughly three hour time period. The best view was around 2:50 p.m., and countless folks could be spotted throughout the villages looking up to see the maximum effects.
Eclipse parties were held throughout the island – at businesses like Lee Robinson General Store, homes, and even on the beach – which allowed viewers to get their hands on the coveted eclipse glasses that have been hard to find all along the islands. Local stores and organizations like Buxton Village Books and the Dare County libraries reported being out of glasses days if not weeks before the big show, so finding glasses or creating a cereal-box viewer was arguably the hardest part of enjoying the eclipse.
And while folks who had glasses were wholly impressed by the afternoon event, it was a little difficult to notice that anything had drastically changed without the assistance of a viewing device. Unlike areas that were in the path of totality – where the skies became completely dark for several minutes – Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands experienced a brief evening-like environment before resuming to a bright and sunny day.
“It felt like dusk,” said one resident who stepped outside during the peak of the eclipse. “I couldn’t help but look at my watch to make sure it wasn’t 7 o’clock already.”
The weather was ideal for the eclipse as well, with just a scattering of clouds throughout the islands and almost a full view of the sun throughout.
This was the first solar eclipse to occur in the United States in 99 years, and the next one will be on April 8, 2024, although it will not be visible along the Outer Banks. In fact, folks on the Outer Banks have a long wait until they can see another total solar eclipse. The next eclipse on the islands that will compare to Monday’s event – with a similar percentage of coverage –will be on August 12, 2045.