All of North America was treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality saw one of nature’s total solar eclipses. This path, where the moon completely covered the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – stretched from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path saw a partial solar eclipse, where the moon covered part of the sun’s disk.
Many eclipse enthusiasts hosted parties in local community centers, museums, observatories, parks or open fields. Lewis and Clark Community College’s Godfrey campus had a viewing party in Fountain Court of Reid Café, while the Scott Bibb campus of L&C held an event outside the main entrance to the building.
Approximately 2,500 students and community members came together at the L&C Godfrey campus to witness this cosmic event. During a solar eclipse, two shadows are created called the penumbra and umbra. Those in the path of the penumbra shadow, saw a partial or annular solar eclipse. Since L&C was just outside the path of totality, it experienced a penumbra shadow. The people down in Carbondale, Illinois experienced an umbra shadow because they were in the “Path of Totality,” so they experienced a total solar eclipse.
The total blackout of the sun can last as long as seven and a half minutes, but the longest time recorded in this year’s eclipse was two minutes and forty-three seconds in Carbondale. The last total eclipse that occurred in the United States was Feb. 26, 1979 and the last one that went coast to coast was on June 8, 1918.Before the eclipse started, Student
Before the eclipse started, Student Activities passed out free solar eclipse themed goodies, such as Moonpies, Sun Chips, Eclipse gum, and Milky Ways. They also provided hot dogs, sausages, brats and even some L&C swag. There were also games, such as volleyball, a blow-up rock climbing wall, and a hula hoop contest.
L&C Media Services were at the event to pass out certified solar eclipse glasses to all who attended.
L&C student Blake Beeman said,“I think it’s great that the college hosted this event and provided solar eclipse glasses. I probably would’ve not been able to view the eclipse if they didn’t have this event.”
“I didn’t really care too much about the eclipse until the day of. It was really cool to see the whole community come together to see this once in a lifetime event. Once I saw that everybody else was having fun I started to have fun myself,” said L&C student Daniel Price.
A local grade school, St. Mary’s Catholic School in Alton, took a field trip to L&C to view the eclipse. Instead of sitting in class, the sixth, seventh, and eighth graders were able to enjoy the inspiring moment. “Awe!” the students exclaimed as the campus went dark.
St. Mary’s Catholic eighth-grade teacher Karen Crites said, “It was a great learning experience for our students to view the eclipse safely.”
For those who missed the experience, there will be another solar eclipse in 7 years. The next solar eclipse will pass through Mexico, the United States, and Canada. The eclipse will enter through Texas and make its exit through Maine. Luckily for the area, the next solar eclipse will come back through Southern Illinois. The date for the next solar eclipse in the United States is set for April 8, 2024.
Alex St. Peters