by Howard Granok, Science Department Chair
Last Monday, the entire Crossroads community traveled to Washington State Park near DeSoto, Missouri to witness the total solar eclipse first hand, and nature did not disappoint.
Prior to the big event, students spent time in their advisory groups learning more about each other, enjoying the park scenery, or wading in the nearby Big River (taking the day’s heat and a temporary bus breakdown in stride).
At 11:30, we came together for lunch and each student received eclipse glasses. Beginning at 11:49 am, students watched the sun become progressively obscured by the new moon.
Photos by Christa Denney, Art Department
The science department offered several activities for the students to experience as the eclipse approached totality. Some students used pinhole cameras to view the sun indirectly, while others observed the same phenomenon using colanders. A lucky few saw “shadow bands” projected onto posterboard as the sun’s light was bent into light and dark waves by the Earth’s atmosphere. Everyone noted the strange quality of the light as totality approached, and a few students took temperature readings throughout the day.
15 minutes before totality, the entire school assembled in the field next to our pavilion. As if on command, a small cloud that had obscured the sun just minutes before disappeared. The skies darkened to a deep bluish gray, and as the last slim crescent of the sun disappeared, we were treated to 2 minutes and 36 seconds of breathtaking beauty
A great cheer went up from the assembled students, faculty, and staff. The sun’s silvery corona was stunning, peaking out in wisps from behind an impossibly dark moon shadow. Those with good cameras were able to record images that showed solar flares and prominences. Physics teacher Cliff pointed out the planet Mercury next to the sun, and Venus was clearly visible towards the west. Many students heard crickets chirping, and those who looked around noted the yellow and pink colors of the northern, western, and eastern horizons. As totality ended and we put our glasses back on, we were treated to the brief “diamond ring” effect.
It was an experience that many of us wished could have gone on for much longer (in fact, our time of totality was only four seconds shorter than the maximum achievable anywhere in the United States!), and was made more so by being able to share it with the Crossroads community.
Many thanks to all the faculty and staff who worked to make the trip possible, and to our smart and good students who represented the school so well.