Cloudy skies for most ALHS students who tried to see eclipse

Published 8:34 pm Monday, April 8, 2024

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Cloudy skies put a damper on plans at Albert Lea High School Monday for the solar eclipse, though teachers still tried to use the day as a teaching moment.

Aside for a few seconds when the clouds parted and at least one class saw the partial eclipse, plans to see the spectacle were mostly disrupted.

Principal Chris Dibble said the school had purchased 800 solar eclipse glasses, and many classes had live NASA feeds streaming throughout the day. Dibble’s own son was streaming live from Illinois on his YouTube channel, which played in his office.

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They also had a few viewers and shadowboxes on hand, and had hoped to do something on the school’s Tiger Vision as well.

Minnesota was not in the path of totality, the area where the moon would fully block out the sun, but had there been clear skies, a 75% partial eclipse would have been visible.

Dibble said science teacher Ken Fiscus had taught some about the eclipse ahead of the event, but for the day of the eclipse itself, Fiscus had traveled to try to get a better view. From what he had heard, it was cloudy there, too.

According to Minnesota Public Radio News, the eclipse started just before 1 p.m. Central Time, peaked around 2:02 p.m. in the Twin Cities, and ended by 3:10 to 3:15 p.m. The path of totality in the U.S. first saw the total eclipse starting around 1:27 p.m. in Texas.

A total solar eclipse has not happened in the contiguous U.S. since 2017 and, before that, 1979.

Close to 2 p.m. when Minnesota was expected to be at the height of its eclipse, passersby on Hammer Road could see different classes of students emerge from Albert Lea’s high school outside to check out the skies, only to find mostly cloudy skies.

Math teacher Jacqui Richter said all of her classes had been watching the eclipse on the NASA feed during the day, and they had wanted to get outside to see if they’d find any luck on their own.

Her young son, who loves the solar system, had gotten her excited about the eclipse.

Students tried on their eclipse glasses and stood looking at the skies for a few minutes until without any luck they had to go back into the school for another class.

Dibble said the next partial eclipse will be during the 2027-28 school year, and the next total eclipse will be in 2044.