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Students caught some fading sun on fields

Students caught some fading sun on fields

August 22nd, 2017 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

Students at Jefferson City High School took part in the festivities surrounding the total solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. Donning the necessary safety glasses, students went outside to the stadium to view the occurrence. Here, Samantha Tambke, foreground left, and Payton Burcham join fellow students outside the high school building.

Photo by Charlotte Renner/Special to the News Tribune

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The approach of Monday's solar eclipse was accompanied by mystery and excitement for local students.

At Jefferson City High School, some students gathered outside about an hour before totality. David Ganey and Rick Hirst's astronomy students were on the north side of the building at the corner of Jay and Jayette drives, as were students including sophomore Wade Bexten, 15.

Bexten and fellow sophomores Emily Baker, 16, Abi Karr, 16, and Bailey Hayes, 15, viewed the sun through their solar glasses. Bexten didn't want to take them off at all, even when he wasn't looking directly at the sun.

He was reminded that, aside from looking up, it was a normal day. Even so, he said, "it's a normal day until you get your eyes burned out" was the position he took on the matter.

"I feel like dogs will howl," he predicted of the coming darkness of totality.

"It's cool people from around the world came to see this," Baker said of the visitors expected in the Jefferson City area.

"I want to see the stars," Karr hoped.

Ganey and Hirst's astronomy students looked at the sun through telescopes Friday to study active sun spots, which are darker, cooler areas compared to the parts of the sun surrounding them.

JCHS students later went to Adkins Stadium to view totality Monday.

Appropriately, King Harvest's "Dancing in the Moonlight" was the first song to play over the sound system at Helias Catholic High School's Ray Hentges Football Stadium as students and staff filed into the stands to view the eclipse.

"This is an extension of the classroom," Helias Principal Kenya Fuemmeler said of the athletic complex, adding that she looked forward to sharing the experience of viewing the eclipse with the students.

Students looked around for spots with lines of sight unblocked by light poles and the structure of the new stadium. Michael Franti and Spearhead's "The Sound of Sunshine" came over the sound system, along with a reminder about not holding up cameras to the sun without placing a solar filter in front of the lens.

Students and staff from Simonsen 9th Grade Center waited on Keith Major Field for totality.

The darkness came as expected — on time at 1:13 p.m. — accompanied by cheers from the people on the field. As a small drone hovered overhead, cicadas and crickets chirped, and streetlights in the area flicked on.

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Then, a brief 2 1/2 minutes or so later, the darkness dissipated as quickly as it had come.

Simonsen Principal Ben Meldrum said no one really knew what to expect.

"I don't know that they really appreciated it until it happened," Meldrum said of his students.

He said students had been learning about it ahead of time, but "none of that really sinks in until you see it," including for himself.

Some local students also collected data on Monday: on light-sensitivity and temperature for NASA at Blair Oaks' Falcon Athletic Complex; and temperature by 4-H students given small sensors by a team from the University of Missouri.