Small Town Times 3-2 - Page 3

The Great American Solar Eclipse By: Marrisa Zentz A solar eclipse that is seen from Earth is an eclipse when the moon passes in between the sun and the Earth and when the Moon is either fully or partially blocking the sun. This rare event can only happen when the Sun and the Moon are in alignment with the Earth. This alignment is called syzygy (a conjunction or opposition, especially of the moon with the sun). In the total eclipse the Sun is fully covered by the Moon. In partial solar eclipses only part of the Sun is covered. If the Moon was in a perfectly circular orbit, and a little closer to Earth there would be total solar eclipses every month. However, since the Moon’s orbit is slightly tilted to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, the shadow usually misses Earth. There are least two, and up to five, solar eclipses each year, but no more than two of the eclipses are total solar eclipses. An eclipse in some ancient cul tures are believed to be attributed to some supernatural or spiritual creatures. Some of the supernatural or spiritual creatures blamed for these events are be wolves, dragons, and the deity Rahu (a Hindu god). The wolf was blamed by the Vikings, the dragon was believed to eat the sun by the Chinese, and the Hindu believed that the deity Rahu was also responsible for the solar eclipse as his severed head consumed the sun. For some, when the totality of the eclipse happens they were frightened because they were unaware of its astronomical explanation, and when the sun disappears behind the moon’s shadow the sky is dark in a matter of minutes. Looking directly at the sun during an eclipse can lead to permanent eye damage and/or blindness, so when the solar eclipse happens (even a partial solar eclipse) special eye wear is highly recommended to protect your eyes. Technically, when the solar eclipse is total, then and only then is it okay to look at a solar eclipse without special eye wear. When you remove the special glasses and look at the solar eclipse during totality, you can see a black spot in the center with a bright light ring around it and little flares of the sunlight protruding from the ring of light around the black spot. It is truly a magical and spectacularly rare event! In some places, the phases of the solar eclipse can last for two hours and the totality of the solar eclipse can last up to a maximum of 7.5 minutes! If you want to be an umbraphile (eclipse chaser) you will spend a lot of time traveling, as an eclipse happens every 18 months somewhere in the world. Litchfield students were fortunate to have the opportunity to view the solar eclipse with special eyewear provided by the school. All students and faculty traveled down to the football field to watch and have lunch. For our area, the solar eclipse began around 11:30 am and the school watched as the sun disappeared gradually until Litchfield experienced totality from 12:55-1:00 pm. During the time spent at the football field, students worked together to conduct science experiments- measuring wind speed, listening for animal noise changes, and more. Many members of the community came out to join the school in watching, making this once-in-a-lifetime event even more special. 3