Solar Spectacle

Published 10:38 am Tuesday, August 22, 2017

AHOSKIE – It’s not every day that a solar eclipse can be seen in the sky over North Carolina, but here during the afternoon of August 21, people were able to experience that astronomical phenomenon. Students in the eighth and ninth grade science classes at Ridgecroft School had the lucky opportunity to witness the event as well.

“I’m just glad they were able to see this,” said Cora Belch, the new science teacher, adding that they might not have had the opportunity outside of school.

Before the students went outside to view the solar eclipse, they were inside watching footage of the moon’s shadow as it crossed the country.

Belch said her classes also discussed interesting ideas and myths surrounding the eclipse. Events such as William the Conqueror’s death occurring during an eclipse made the event seem like a bad omen to people of the past. Other societies throughout history believed it to be a forewarning for danger.

Once outside, the students used a variety of methods to safely view the solar eclipse. Some had eclipse glasses

Ridgecroft science teacher Cora Belch (left) looks on as one of her students uses a shoebox to safely observe the eclipse.

to allow them to look directly at the sun as the moon passed in front, covering almost 90 percent of the sun’s surface. They didn’t mind sharing the glasses with their classmates to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.

A few students even covered their cell phone camera lens with the eclipse glasses so they could snap a photo to commemorate the event.

Other students had constructed pinhole projectors over the weekend, using materials such as shoeboxes and cereal boxes. By tilting the box at the right angle, the students were able to peer inside to see the crescent-shaped shadow cast on the cardboard.

Amanda Byrum, one of the students enjoying the view, said it was easy to construct her projector from an old shoebox. She added they received extra credit for making one.

Other classmates had punched holes in a white notecard and were able to see the shadow on the sidewalk if they held the card flat in front of them.

One student even brought a welding mask to protect his eyes.

“It’s something you’ve never seen before,” said science student Emerson Christison when asked about what she thought of the experience.

Many of her classmates echoed the sentiment.

“It was a new experience,” added classmate Savannah Johnson. “You don’t get to see that every day.”

The rest of the school’s students were able to watch live footage of the eclipse on classroom TVs in order to experience the rare spectacle.

Though the peak of the eclipse only lasted a few minutes with the sky only getting a bit dimmer, it was surely something the students will remember for a long time to come.