A total eclipse, where the moon fully blocks the sun, is a once-or-twice-in-a-lifetime phenomenon for U.S. citizens. And that rare experience took place Monday, Aug. 21, where the entire North American continent witnessed an eclipse, some in total, and others partially. (We were at 72% in the Mountain Area).
At Oakhurst Elementary School, Monday was transformed into the Great American Eclipse Day. Teachers planned fun, interactive astronomy lessons and activities, integrated into math, art and science. Principal Kathleen Murphy made sure each child and staff had their very own eclipse glasses as students sat on the grassy field watching the bright sun go dark.
Among the oohs and ahs, there were comments on the slowly growing shape as the moon seemed to devour most of the sun. “It’s a banana ... a smile ... a slice of moon.”
“Here in California, observers only saw about 70-75% coverage because we were not in the path of totality,” Murphy explained. “My husband gets all the credit for this day, as he was the one to suggest doing something fun for the solar eclipse. His love of astronomy is contagious and I wanted to make him and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson proud.” (Tyson is an American astrophysicist, author and science communicator).
An estimated 160 million nationwide watched the solar eclipse.
“My goal is that in years to come, these students will remember this day and perhaps foster a love of astronomy,” Murphy added.
NASA reported that the last total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous U.S. was in February 1979, when the path went across five northwestern states and several Canadian provinces, but no total solar eclipse has crossed the entire U.S. from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic since June 1918.