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Solar Eclipse: Experiencing Totality

Solar Eclipse: Experiencing Totality
Will Micciche '26

On Monday, 8 April 2024, a total solar eclipse occurred over the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The US states that got to see totality were Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Almost 32,000,000 people already lived within the path of totality, and millions more traveled to see the Sun fully eclipsed. Almost seven years ago, a total solar eclipse occurred on August 21, 2017, which went from the west coast to the east coast. 
During the April 8 eclipse, all 48 contiguous states got to see at least some of the Sun occulted by the Moon, but those who were in the path of 100% coverage were treated to a truly amazing experience. About 92% of the Sun was covered at Wooster at peak eclipse, and everyone gathered on the turf together to watch it. 

I left early Sunday morning for Stowe, Vermont, which lay in the path of totality. This would be the second solar eclipse that I have seen. On October 14, 2023, an annular eclipse passed through the Americas, and I saw a 60% partial eclipse from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. On the morning of April 8, I woke up early to align a telescope to track the Sun throughout the day and eclipse. As the morning progressed, I started to get more and more antsy. My dad and I went into town, and the town was packed. I’m almost positive most of them were there for the eclipse. Once the clock struck 2:15pm, that is when the eclipse began. With every passing minute, the Sun began to disappear, and I began to notice the indirect effects like sharper shadows, temperature drops, and it got much darker. About five minutes before totality, I noticed the Moon’s umbral shadow on the horizon, and knew that totality was close. Once I saw Baily’s Beads and the diamond ring, seconds later the Sun looked like a black hole, with its ghostly corona shining around the Moon. Everything seemed quiet, dark, and it looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. Lasting for just over two and a half minutes, totality ended with another set of Baily’s Beads, and the corona faded from view. As the back half of the partial phase progressed, the sky returned to its normal brightness, the temperature began to rise again, and shadows became fuzzy again. The eclipse ended at 4:37pm, and it was not something I am going to forget. 

It was a truly amazing experience, and I would highly encourage everyone to see a total eclipse of the Sun if they get a chance to. The difference between a 99% partial eclipse and total eclipse is significant, and is not to be underestimated. The next total solar eclipses in the United States will be on August 23, 2044, and August 12, 2045. Be sure to see these if you missed April 8, 2024!

 


 

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