Approach of the Moon's Shadow

Howard Russell Butler, American, 1856—1934
Approach of the Moon's Shadow, (Eclipse of 1918, Baker, Oregon), 1918
Oil on canvas
Princeton University, gift of Mrs. Howard Russell Butler, Presented at Commencement 1938

As Butler was waiting for the 1918 eclipse to start, he was warned by a countdown when the eclipse was a few seconds away. He could then see the shadow of the moon approaching on nearby hills, moving at about a thousand miles per hour. It took about two seconds to travel the last half mile, and in that time he could see the edge of the shadow crossing the plain to reach him as totality started. He recorded this sight afterward, in the painting Approach of the Moon’s Shadow, with the hills in darkness and the shadow edge just starting across the plain. In the far distance the clouds are outside the region of totality, so the sun still lights them.