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Shelter Islanders come together for the eclipse

On beaches, on decks and backyards, in open fields and at the school, Islanders craned their necks and looked skywards yesterday afternoon, following a rare partial eclipse of the sun.

The moon, starting about 2:15 p.m., perfectly aligned with the sun, casting a massive shadow over the Island. And although solar eclipses occur at least twice each year, due to the size of the planet, the effect is only visible from certain areas, which more often than not  are in the middle of oceans.

Monday’s celestial event peaked between 3 and 3:30 p.m., and covered about 90% of the sun.

All eyes looking up at Wades Beach. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

At the school, the Science Department, led by teacher Dan Williams, organized an event behind the building near the playground and the softball field.

The area rapidly filled up when school was dismissed at about 2:30. Students of all ages, some with their parents, along with other Islanders, joined in the gathering. Bottles of water and snacks were provided; the black and white cookies were gone in minutes. It was a party atmosphere, with running children and lots of laughter.

Everyone wore protective lenses, and the universal reaction when first seeing the procession of the moon’s shadow across the sun was something on the order of: “That is so cool!”

School Science Teacher Dan Williams, ably assisted by his daughter Emilyann, setting up a white square where the image of the sun, projected through the tube, showed the progression of the eclipse. (Credit: Eleanor P. Labrozzi)

It actually became much cooler as the sky darkened in the early afternoon, with the temperature dropping 10 to 15 degrees and a wind suddenly coming up with the slowly growing darkness.

(Credit: Eleanor P. Labrozzi)

All over the Island, the event was a happy combination of community get-togethers, and awe at the majesty of a universe that can still thrill us. The transformation of an average April afternoon into a shared mystical experience was felt by almost all who witnessed the eclipse. 

(Credit: Adam Bundy)
Dawn, dusk, or 3 p.m. Monday? Wades Beach grew dark with the eclipse. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

It grew noticeably more quiet behind the school, with chattering — almost giddy — conversations lowering to just above whispers, as the moon’s dark shadow joined and then obscured the light of the sun, before slowly returning to the bright spring afternoon of just an hour before.

The Reporter will have more on this site and in Thursday’s print edition.