LENOIR CITY (WATE) – A retired chemist with a passion for astronomy has his own backyard observatory named “Nightfall” in Lenoir City. On Monday, the solar eclipse’s path of totality passed right over his backyard and he was ready with friends and five telescopes.
There was a small book for friends and visitors to sign next to Vincente Diaz’s front door. Once they passed through the home, they could choose their seat for the solar eclipse.
“I haven’t seen an eclipse before. I’m really excited,” said Diaz’s nephew Elliot Callender, who’s in the eighth grade.
“People here are very enthusiastic with these kinds of things. I’m excited to be here, too,” added Esteban Salazar, a graduate student from Columbia, South America.
Hours went by with people looking up with protective eyewear, snapping photos and watching the sun change in a handmade telescope filter.
“It was really cool. I didn’t even know what it would look like, I thought the sun would just get blurred but it looks like something is taking a bite out of the sun slowly,” said Callender.
The watch party was more like a science lesson, Diaz sharing the moon was traveling around 1,500 miles per hour. Once the light shifted in Lenoir City, everyone stood in awe.
“It was so beautiful. You could see the corona. You could see the planets. We were able to see Jupiter on the east and Venus on the west,” said Diaz.
Throughout the afternoon he kept notes on how the eclipse was impacting the environment. From the time the moon first made contact with the sun, the temperature in Diaz’s observatory was at 102 degrees. Once in totality, the temperature dropped to 85 degrees.
“Those minute and 45 seconds or 50 seconds or whatever, were the fastest two minutes of my life,” said Diaz.
There’s already a sense of excitement for the next solar eclipse in 2024 which passes through Mexico up north to Maine.
“That one, if you’re close to the center line, the totality will be four minutes,” he said.
Will we find Mr. Diaz there? “Absolutely,” he said.