By Sidrah Tariq
What is so amazing and striking that people were talking about and were traveling to see from all over the U.S.? The Great American solar eclipse on August 21.
An eclipse is when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. This year, the path to totality was visible crossing the following 14 states throughout the contiguous United States, from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
A total eclipse visible from the United States has not occurred since February 26, 1979. There was a partial eclipse that occurred about five years ago as well. Ms. Barge, an astronomy and biology teacher, remembers driving down the Northwest Highway and seeing the sun down the street.
“I pulled over and looked with the solar glasses, and I’ll never forget the picture in my head of this partial sun framed by trees right down the middle of the street,” said Ms. Barge.
This year, the eclipse brought back the spectacular view, and many people traveled to view totality. The eclipse took place from about Noon to about 3:00 P.M. Ms. Barge traveled to Missouri on the edge of the Ozark Mountains and experienced the eclipse from the very beginning. While the eclipse lasted for few hours, totality was only a few minutes long.
“We started at 12:30 so we could catch the very beginning and then finished after 3:30 after the moon left the circle of the sun. The total only was two minutes in the middle, but it was fun to watch the entire eclipse,” said Ms. Barge.
Olivia Klein ‘18 went to Chesterfield, Missouri and had an amazing experience as well. She said it felt like “it was something out of a sci-fi movie.”
Kenza Walthour, who watched the eclipse from the Adler Planetarium, said that “the moon was gradually going over the sun until there was a ring over the light.”
During totality, people felt a shift in the weather as well as the atmosphere around them.
Ms. Barge stated, “the total eclipse was fantastic. You could really see the corona around the sun, which looked just like all the pictures. It got dark, and we could see Venus.”
Olivia and Kenza both stated that it was not as bright and got really dark. It wasn’t as hot anymore.
Not all parts of Missouri, however, experienced the same amount of totality. In Jefferson City, the totality lasted about 149 seconds. In Chesterfield, there were about 84 seconds of totality.
For those who saw a partial eclipse, the view was just as fascinating and memorable. Kenza saw the eclipse in Chicago, and she said, “My favorite part was watching with a group of people and seeing the eclipse.”
People are already looking forward and making plans for the next eclipse, which will take place in 2024. Ms. Barge says that she will be “opting for Texas.”
Olivia also said, “I would love to experience something like that again!”