The temperature began to drop, Veatch estimating as much as 13-degrees. Cicadas and other insects, sounds one would normally only hear in the dead of night, began to flap and hiss.
It was only fitting that just prior to the culmination of a highly anticipated historical natural phenomena, Eldon High School students made a little history of their own.
Packed to the brim in the school’s new Performing Arts Center for the first time since its completion, all four high school classes, some 550 students, gathered around 11:30 for a short science and safety lesson from science teacher Peggy Veatch before heading outside on the athletics practice field to catch the 2017 Solar Eclipse.
“What makes this one so special for us is the totality line goes almost right over us. That’s only about 70-miles wide, so we are very fortunate we will have over 99-percent totality,” Veatch said. “This does not happen very often, being in the range of totality is usually a once in a life time event.”
Veatch, who recently finished a seminar led by a NASA representative in preparation of Monday, explained the significance of the eclipse, but also warned of its danger.
“The Sun is no stronger during the eclipse than it is normally. That’s an old wives tale. The problem is painless damage when you just have a tiny part peaking out you can look at it and not feel any pain, but it is still burning the photo receptors in your eyes,” Veatch said. “Cell phones magnify the light of the Sun coming through. It’s dangerous and not good for your cell phone. You don’t normally go and take pictures of the Sun, don’t do it today.”
The science instructor explained how students would first catch a glimpse of the partial eclipse around 12:30 p.m. followed by what’s known as Baily’s beads and then what looks like a diamond ring before reaching totality from approximately 1:13 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. before reversing order to complete the total passage.
The reason why scientists were excited, Veatch explained, and why students were afforded the opportunity is because the solar eclipse provides the rare occasion to study and see the corona of the Sun, its hottest part, and will perhaps unlock secrets to some of science’s biggest questions surrounding our largest energy supplier.
As temperatures crept up from the 80s, students began grouping together on top of blankets and underneath umbrellas, while others passed the time by tossing frisbees, socializing and occasionally glancing up toward the sky.
It was around 1:00 p.m. when most started paying more close attention as the otherwise sunny and relatively unclouded day began to change as the Sun’s bright light became more and more faded.
Then things began moving quickly. The temperature began to drop, Veatch estimating as much as 13-degrees. Cicadas and other insects, sounds one would normally only hear in the dead of night, began to flap and hiss.
And then just like that — it was over.
“Good morning!” one girl joked to her friend, as the night quickly turned back to day.
“Wait, that was it?” one boy asked, seemingly unimpressed with the whole event.
“That was cool, but I thought it would be darker,” another student commented.
As the sunlight began to return, students still stood in awe, momentarily struck at what they had just witnessed, probably for the first and last time.