DARKNESS FALLS. Bertrand was enveloped in darkness at about 1 p.m. Monday as the total solar eclipse passed overhead. Here, third graders of Shauna Wilkins' class look through their viewing glasses as the sun was completely covered by the shadow of the moon. The total eclipse lasted only about 2 1/2 minutes, but these youngsters will remember it for a lifetime. The next total eclipse visible in the U. S. will be May 3rd, 2106. (Bertrand Herald Photo/Stuart Osborn)
Fifteen minutes before the “zero hour” for the Great American Solar Eclipse on Monday, students from Bertrand and Loomis schools gathered to watch the once-in- a-lifetime event.
At Bertrand, first, second, third and fourth graders sat in class groups south of the schoolhouse. Fifth and sixth graders had viewing spots south of the new gym and the older students hiked to the football field to watch.
At Loomis, students gathered in the west gymnasium, then went outside to the playground area to look a
t the moon as it passed between the sun and the earth.
Many of the younger pupils at both schools made viewing masks out of paper plates and readily-available solar viewing glasses. Others wore the glasses alone.
As totality approached, the youngsters commented on how darkness began to fall and several noticed the drop in temperature (about 15 to 20 degrees) during the time the sun was behind the moon. They also noticed the behavior of "critters" such as crickets, large numbers of which gathered on the warmer concrete and all faced north. As the darkness approached, animal noises diminished and even the birds fell silent.
At the Bertrand Nursing Home and Assisted Living, viewing glasses had been handed out early to the residents and many watched the event from the front lawn.
Nebraskans got their first glimpse of the eclipse’s beginning at 11:58 a.m. MDT. 17 minutes and 51 seconds and 467 miles later, the eclipse left the Cornhusker state at the southeastern corner.
Viewers wearing various forms of protective eyewear were able to watch the shadow of the moon creep across the sun from the upper right to the lower left, blocking out the sun entirely from just after 12:57 until just before 1 p.m. – less than three minutes in “totality.”
Throughout the eclipse, students and teachers (and no doubt many other citizens) attempted to take photographs, movies or cellphone photos or videos, with some gaining better results than others. It did not take long for successful image-takers to post their results online for viewing by others.
The last total eclipse of the sun was visible in Nebraska’s northeastern part on June 30th, 1954. Prior to that, August 7th, 1869, was the last total eclipse. The next one visible in this area will be on May 3rd, 2106 and the next after that on June 16th, 2178.