Area marvels as moon budges the sun

Schools let students get outside for cosmic event


LEE COUNTY – The first solar eclipse viewable in Lee County in seven years captured the attention of educators and students across the county Monday afternoon.
A cloudless sky allowed people in Lee County to view, with proper glasses, the 83% coverage of the sun by the earth’s moon high in the sky almost due overhead just a tick or two south.
Students at Fort Madison High School sat on a walkway of the school’s new addition on the west side and casually watched at about 1:15 p.m. warning each other about looking up without glasses.
Another group of students at Fort Madison Middle School sat at picnic tables on the west side using filters and special eclipse glasses to view the eclipse at about 1:30 p.m.
Central Lee schools took full advantage of the annual cosmic phenomenon with almost every students grouped by class on the district track with songs playing on the public address system like Susie and the Banshees Walking on Sunshine and others.
Central Lee’s Middle School Principal Kim Ensminger said so many teachers had talked about getting out to witness the eclipse, the district decided to get everyone out for an hour.
"We were going to do it and Heather (Fuger, Central Lee Elementary Principal) was going to do it so we just said let’s coordinate it and get a message out to parents,” Ensminger said.
The Central Lee PTO provided the viewing glasses for students and teachers at the district and purchased them from Hy-Vee. Parents were advised of the district-wide viewing and were invited to attend.
“We sent out an email to the entire district and said if parents didn’t want their child to participate, the students could stay inside. We also told parents if they wanted to come join us, they were welcome,” said Superintendent Dr. Andy Crozier.
“We gave people opportunities to make modifications or come be with their children.”
Ensminger said middle school students were shown a video of what an eclipse was and it talked about vision safety.
“Then we made some final announcements before they all came out and I think it went pretty well,” Ensminger said.
She said students were active in the process and tried to take pictures with their phones through the glasses that were provided.
Central Lee students were spaced out around the entire ¼ mile high school track in groups of classes with high school students milling about as the moon passed in front of the sun.
It was the first time a solar eclipse has passed over North America since 2017 and the next one isn’t projected for another 20 years in 2044.
According to NASA, the earth experiences total solar eclipses about every three years, but are typically only visible from the north or south poles or from the middle of the oceans.
Millions of visitors were expected to travel to the 100% solar eclipse along the path from western Texas to the northeast part of the country.
The sky slightly dimmed for about 90 minutes starting at 1:10 in Lee County and the eclipse had moved on before 3 p.m.

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