In March of 1979, the Moon passed in front of the Sun and caused a total solar eclipse that could be viewed in the United States. 26 years later, the same phenomenon occurred and could be viewed on a path that threw many states into shadow, including a few bordering Colorado. This most recent total solar eclipse, which took place on Monday, was the first opportunity for students at Vista to witness the astronomical event in their lifetime.
The closest states to Highlands Ranch where complete totality could be viewed were Wyoming and Nebraska, so many students travelled out of the state to experience the eclipse at its full potential. While some travelled individually with their families, others opted to sign up for a spot on a charter bus to Wheatland, Wyo., a city on the edge of the path of totality of the eclipse. The field trip was arranged by science teacher Jason Cochrane and left the school at 5:00 a.m. the morning of the eclipse with 55 students.
“I kept watching and reading more and more about the path of totality and every single thing I read kept talking about how it is a 100 percent different experience in [the path of] totality than anywhere else,” Cochrane said. “There were just so many ways people were describing it that I wanted to see it for myself.”
Organizing the trip was not an easy task however, due to the fact that Arrow, the charter bus company Cochrane contacted, did not have any vehicles available initially due to the massive crowds of people flocking to witness the eclipse. Luckily the company was able to release a bus and, after sorting out the issue of meeting time constraints for the driver, the trip was completed successfully.
Not all students chose to leave Colorado to view the phenomenon. Rather, they stayed at the school or moved a short distance to Denver, where the eclipse could be seen at 92 percent totality. One group of students visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science with science teacher Kelly Click, while others simply remained at school to view the cosmic process.
Regardless of what location students chose to admire the eclipse, many were left in awe of the sight.
“It was the absolute best two minutes and 30 seconds,” junior Natalie Horn, who viewed the event from Casper, Wyo., said. “I have always been super interested in anything to do with the cosmos so I was very excited for this.”
The next time students will have the opportunity to view this event will be in the year 2024, when the path of totality will include Highlands Ranch.
Photo Courtesy Michael Place