Eclipse darkens sky, and creates light in community

Mike Lenox and his wife Sam view the solar eclipse on Wachusett Mountain at 3:30 P.M. The skies were darkened and the sun was an orange sliver in the sky. Photo Courtesy of Caitlin V. Reidy/BU News Service.

By Caitlin V. Reidy

Boston University News Service

The Great North American Eclipse swept through Massachusetts after 2 P.M. on April 8, 2024. In some areas, including Wachusett Mountain, near totality reached about 95% coverage. 

The highest elevation in Central Massachusetts, Wachusett Mountain attracted a crowd of about 100 people, despite the icy hike to the summit. The eclipse began around 2:14 P.M. and peaked at 3:30 P.M. By 3:27 P.M. the skies were visibly darkened, and the air became cooler; causing several people to put on extra layers. 

As the sky became darker, birds stopped chirping, dogs started barking and the soft hum of excited eclipse-viewers permeated the air. 

Mike Lenox, who works in Concord, hiked Wachusett Mountain with his wife Sam to witness the event. Lenox said he also witnessed the 2017 eclipse from Wachusett Mountain’s summit. 

“It’s worth it to make the hike up,” Lenox said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.” 

John Howe Jr., from Boylston, said he hiked up the mountain because of its high point in Central Massachusetts. He said he climbed up the mountain around 9 A.M. to avoid potential crowds. 

With several of Wachusett’s trails still covered in snow from the ski season and recent weather, people from all ages filed in as the peak of the eclipse approached. 

Some people had forgotten solar glasses and filters to witness the eclipse. Strangers became friends, as individuals shared glasses and camera filters. 

Jim Collins, a retired teacher from Auburn, said he shared his glasses with people he met while viewing the eclipse. 

“It’s about community,” Collins said. “This is a special mountain. I’ve brought my classes up here.” 

Dr. Luke Moore, Boston University Research Assistant Professor of Astronomy, said this eclipse is special because there won’t be another total eclipse in the United States for another generation. 

“They [solar eclipses] are one of the oldest and most awe inspiring and fear-inducing astronomical phenomena that humans have regularly observed,” Dr. Moore said. “Even when we understand them, and precisely predict them, a total eclipse is an eerie experience.” 

Dr. Moore said the temperature becomes cooler during an eclipse for the same reason it becomes darker when night approaches. Solar radiation is temporarily unable to reach the Earth’s surface, he said.  

“It will be cooler and darker the more the sun is obscured,” Dr. Moore said. 

According to NASA, the next total solar eclipse will be visible in the United States on Aug. 23, 2044.

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