Travel to the path of totality

Kenna Howorth and Gabrielle Tarrant

On August 21, 2017, for the first time in 58 years, a solar eclipse occurred in the United States. As the majority of the students at Riverside Brookfield High School viewed the eclipse out in the bleachers, other students traveled out of state to get in the path of totality.

Seniors Amanda Voth, Claire Jacobs, Chloe Morello, Jason Kenny, and Mary Clare Greenlees began to make plans to witness the eclipse in September 2016, and finally cemented them in this past January. They started their journey on August 21, 2017, at around 3 am. They drove six hours to an airport in the town of Perryville, Missouri, to see this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon in its full form.

Among these five RBHS students, there were also various groups of scientists.

“There was a group from the Adler Planetarium [who we were with], from DePaul, and from the University of Illinois all setting off balloons to take videos and pictures of the eclipse. Some locals [also attended],” Jacobs said.

Unlike the Brookfield area, Perryville was in the path of totality allowing these students to be able to view the diamond ring.

“It completely covered the sun. It was incredible. My favorite part of it [was that] there is still sun all around it [the moon’s shadow]. So when you look out there it is like a 360 degree sunset. It was like red, oranges, and yellows on the horizon,” Kenny said.

However, this solar eclipse did more than bewilder the crowd in Perryville. It allowed Kenny to confirm his ideal path of study.

“Being able to finally be there really cemented my plan for the future of learning space science and doing astrophysics,” Kenny said. “I think finally witnessing this sort of major [celestial] occurrence just really confirmed that.”

Overall, the students who traveled together were ecstatic to have taken the trip.

“It was very hard for me to picture what it was going to be like. I definitely did not expect it to freak me out so much. It was very spooky but still the coolest and most beautiful thing I have ever seen,” Jacobs said.