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  • Writer's pictureLeah Sacks

Eclipse Escapades

Hello all,


It’s been a while since I wrote on this blog. We’ve been focusing on other things in our lab meetings lately. But now I’m back! And I’m here to discuss a very cool planetary event that took place recently… the Eclipse!!! As many of you likely heard, there was a total solar eclipse this on a recent Monday (April 8th, 2024) that crossed over North America. I wasn’t sure what my academic commitments were going to be, so I didn’t decide on any eclipse plans until very close to the day, but I ended up driving to Port Stanley, Ontario, which would be in the path of totality. Totality is when a location is completely in the shadow of the moon, cast by the Sun down onto the Earth. This results is darkness in locations in the path of the shadow for the few minutes that the Moon totally blocks out the sun.


I ended up traveling down to the port with two of my lab mates. You can see all of us in the pictures here, wearing out eclipse glasses. The glasses are so that we can look at the sun without hurting our eyes. Even as we were leaving London it was clear that many people were heading down to Port Stanley and other nearby areas. There was a lot of traffic and as we came into the town of Port Stanley, there was absolutely no sign of parking. We spent a while looking for a spot before finally squeezing into a public lot in a spot that was maybe not really a parking spot, but it was kind of unclear. We were hoping to get some ice cream before the eclipse, but all of the ice creams shops had yet to open for the season, so we were out of luck. Instead, we walked across a large field full of people, right on the shore of Lake Erie, to where there were some large boulders of natural rock lining the shore. We sat on those rocks (in the pictures) and prepared to see the Eclipse!




I could see as the amount of visible sun dwindled down to tiny little bits and the level of light in our area dropped down in stages. Finally, the sun was totally blocked by the Moon and we could look around. At the darkest, the area looked almost like sunset or sunrise in every direction. It was almost hazy and had that light of when the sun has just dropped behind the horizon. You can see in my pictures how there was almost a ring of orangey-pink colors at the horizon and then sort of purpley colors over most of the sky. The sun itself, which I didn’t get a picture of, shone as a ring of light around the moon. By blocking out the moon/sun combo, we could see almost a rainbow colored halo around it. One of my lab mates might discuss this more in their blogs, but it was very cool.





I’ve heard that the world gets quiet during a total eclipse, and I did kind of notice that. There was definitely a feeling of stillness, almost like a pause, even as people spoke quietly to those around them. Other than the darkness, the most noticeable change from my perspective was actually the temperature. One of my lab mates had seen and eclipse before and warned be to bring my jacket, because it actually got very cold in the minutes leading up to and during the eclipse. I was glad I had the jacket.


Reflecting on it, I was very glad that I went to see the event. There really is just nothing quite like it. I’d definitely like to see another one, so I’ll have to figure out where I need to be on the planet to see the next one. My lab mates and I also talked about how interesting and how cool it was that events like this can bring all kinds of people out to see them. There were so many people, just even in Port Stanley, let alone the rest of the path of totality. And it’s all kinds of people, not just those who study space for a living. It’s very fun, a little humbling, and inspiring to experience an event like this and you can completely understand why people interpreted eclipses as bad or good omens or signs from a deity or higher power. We are tiny bugs and the Earth and Mother Nature humor us by letting us exist.


In any case, I had a great time and we ended up getting some packaged ice cream bars from a convenience store as a treat, so all was well in the end. Oh and we capped the trip off by grabbing a quick Taco Bell dinner as we got back into town, which was one of my lab mates first times at the chain restaurant. But I’ll leave that for her to discuss.


Cheers!

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