By Priscilla Leverett, Guest Writer
October 26, 2023
A rare partial solar eclipse brought astonishment to people looking at the sky on Oct. 14. According to NASA’s website, “A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth that either fully or partially blocks the sun’s light in some areas. This only happens occasionally because the moon doesn’t orbit in the exact same plane as the sun and Earth do.”
The recent solar eclipse was specifically an annular eclipse. “An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the sun and Earth, but when it is at or near its farthest point from Earth,” NASA further explained. “Because the moon is farther away from Earth, it appears smaller than the sun and does not completely cover the sun.”
To say the least, the eclipse was a huge deal. The most visible points on the map saw a ring that appeared haunted. At the strongest point, it doesn’t completely cover the sun, though.
This past annular eclipse, commonly known as the “Ring of Fire,” was in prime viewability going through Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and the bottom of Oregon. Even though Arkansas was not in the perfect view, it was still 70% visible in the reflection of a phone camera or with special eclipse glasses here.
Junior Shelby Cheek happened to catch it and shared her experience with exhilaration while she felt connected to the scattered eyes viewing it across the nation.
“While I was observing the eclipse, I pulled up a YouTube video of a man watching it from another part of the United States who was enjoying this phenomenon,” Cheek said. “This gave me a sense of connectedness that the eclipse was able to offer.”
Freshman Virginia Waterman was in a rehearsal when it hit, but a pause in practice time was built in to honor this significant moment.
“During rehearsal, my professor took us out in our rehearsal skirts and jackets and stared at the ground,” Waterman said. Her professor encouraged students to look down at the shadows on Cone-Bottoms Lawn, which showed the crescent shape of the eclipse.
These incredible features of the universe are truly magnificent to witness. If you missed the annular eclipse, an even more exciting total eclipse is expected to occur on April 8, 2024. This will be the first total eclipse since 2017. Arkansas has been named as one of the strongest points on the map to watch this incredible eclipse. It will likely be visible in Arkadelphia for around four minutes, which is a long time in eclipse time. So, gather your friends, do your research and plan to observe the next eclipse and be amazed by the galaxy’s wonders.