A Rare Sight: Elementary class watches solar eclipse from Natchez

Published 3:30 pm Monday, April 8, 2024

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NATCHEZ — At 1:45 p.m. on Monday, the chances of Amanda Mercer’s fourth-grade class at Susie B. West Elementary School seeing the solar eclipse seemed pretty bleak at first as thick dark clouds covered the sky.

At 1:50, however, the outer rim of the sun peaked out through holes in the dark canvas just enough for the class to jump excitedly to their feet and gaze upward.

As the sun, overlapped by the dark shadow of the moon, continued to play peek-a-boo with the clouds multiple times over the next several minutes the class watched and shouted happily with each appearance.

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Mercer’s class had been studying solar eclipses over the last week, preparing for this day, she said. She bought special glasses from the Walmart Vision Center for the class to wear, but they weren’t needed. The clouds provided enough cover for the students to gaze safely upward without hurting their eyes.

In Natchez, a 90 percent eclipse was briefly visible on Monday. The break in the clouds happened during the peak time for viewing the eclipse. The total solar eclipse would pass by to the northwest, in the path of several U.S. states including Arkansas and Texas.

While solar eclipses happen quite often — at least twice each year — they can only be seen every 300 to 400 years from any one place on Earth’s surface, and much of that surface is remote or covered by ocean. There won’t be another opportunity to witness another solar eclipse in Natchez again until Aug. 12, 2045.

If you managed to capture an image of the solar eclipse on Monday, email it to yourtake@natchezdemocrat.com. Please specify who took the photo and where it was taken.