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Historic Huntley Hosts Eclipse Watch Party

Alexandria, VA – As millions witnessed the recent eclipse, a small group had been invited to a watch party at Historic Huntley, a 19th century Federal style villa that sits high atop a bluff facing the Potomac River. It wasn’t a particularly prestigious event, except that one of the Fairfax County Parks specialists brought an exceptional telescope, an Orion SkyQuest Dobsonian, a large piece of astronomy equipment. Visitors lined up to view the changing phases through its strong magnification.

The owner of this sophisticated telescope is P. J. Dunn, a Fairfax Country Parks naturalist who leads night hikes, birding expeditions, and astronomy programs at the adjoining wetlands preserve known as Huntley Meadows Park. He was joined by Naturalist Historian Samantha Asquyars, also a Fairfax County Parks employee who entertained the children with the estate’s resident celebrity, Berry the Turtle, and helped the kids make boxes to view the eclipse safely.

Guests at the party settled in the watch The Event. Everyone got a peek through the Orion SkyQuest Dobsonian telescope. (Photos: Jordan Wright)

While guests awaited the start of the moon shadow’s elegant transition, they toured the home and its collection of artifacts, gleaning historical information about the former occupants and some intriguing artifacts. The house was built for Thomson F. Mason, a former mayor of Alexandria who lived there with his family.

Samantha Asquyars with the estate’s resident celebrity, Berry the Turtle. (Photo: Jordan Wright)

A few fascinating scientific facts about the eclipse were shared. The corona is 2 million degrees, the hottest thing you will ever see with the human eye, and the ring along the edge of the corona is called the “necklace.” In Alexandria, we could not see the “diamond ring” or experience the thrill of “totality” when people directly on the eclipse path experienced total darkness. Nonetheless, tracking the sun being gobbled up like a piece of cheese was exciting since the next projected total eclipse in our area isn’t until 2078.

Historic Huntley hosts many events, and you can keep track of them on their website at www.FairfaxCounty.Gov/Parks/Huntley.

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Jordan Wright

Jordan Wright is a noted publisher and writer focused on food, spirits, travel, theatre and lifestyles.  Her writing can also be found on her personal website

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