‘Eclipse Chaser’ presents at Phillips Area Community Center before April 8 total eclipse

15 mins read
Paul Hobbs, of Bethel, who has seen four solar eclipses, explained how to prepare to get the most out of viewing the Solar Eclipse on Monday, April 8 at a special presentation at the Phillips Area Community Center on March 30. Pictured with him is Winona Davenport.

PHILLIPS – The incredible total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, 2024 is a rare opportunity to see a memorable event that will be with you for the rest of your life.

What to expect and how to prepare to make the most out of this astronomical phenomenon was the focus of a presentation by Paul Mobbs, of Bethel, who considers himself a bit of an eclipse chaser, at the Phillips Area Community Center (PACC) on Saturday, March 30.

Mott will be going to Texas to view this eclipse, a part of an eclipse excursion hosted by Sky & Telescope. Participating in these excursions has given him access to photographers and experts in the field.


Key things to keep in mind in viewing an eclipse:

  • Eye Safety is paramount – without proper eye protection, you can sustain permanent, irreversible damage to your retina.
  • Knowing what to expect – the totality of the eclipse in Phillips will only be for 19 seconds.
  • Understanding the history of them – the first recorded solar eclipse was in 2000 BC in China, and it was believed the dragon was eating the sun. There is a whole host of mythology surrounding an eclipse, including good and bad omens.
  • Making a plan for the best viewing. He suggests having 3 locations picked out due to weather concerns.
  • The next solar eclipse will not be until 2044, 20 years from now, and many will not be around to enjoy another one. It’s an incredible experience you won’t want to miss out on, and knowing what to expect will help people make the most of the experience.
  • A swath of Maine is in the path of totality, and Phillips is set just on the edge of totality which cuts through a large part of Aroostook, Franklin, Oxford, Penobscot, Piscataquis, and Somerset counties.
  • All locations in Maine outside the path of totality will see a partial solar eclipse in which more than 95 percent of the sun will be covered. This will occur around the times of 3:29 p.m. to 3:35 p.m.

A solar eclipse happens when the moon perfectly aligns with the sun and the earth. The moon will block the sun’s light and cast a shadow on part of Earth. While partial solar eclipses and lunar eclipses are more common than total ones. Totality should start around 3:30 pm on Monday. Thousands of people are expected to flock to Maine to view the total solar eclipse so there is a lot riding on the weather forecast. Jackman and Rangeley are expecting a huge number of tourists and traffic is expected to be extremely heavy.


Proper eye protection

Be careful of eclipse glasses. There are some hoaxes out there, Hobbs said. They should have been manufactured in the past 3 years, and be lab tested.

According to the American Astronomical Society, a real and safe pair of solar eclipse glasses should be labeled with ISO 12312-2 (sometimes written in more detail as ISO 12312-2:2015.)

If you have questions about your glasses, there is a simple test. Put the glasses on and look directly into the lightbulb of a spotlight. You should only see the dim filament, and nothing around it.

As these glasses block out all light, do not use them while walking, driving, or doing anything but watching the eclipse.


Viewing options:

You can view the eclipse from your backyard, and due to it being early April, the foliage on the trees will not block your view. It is best to look for a spot where lots of lights will not be coming on due to darkness. A city is not a great vantage point, he said.

Elevation can make a difference in what you see but beware it will be quick. Totality in Phillips will only be for 19 seconds. If you move further into the middle of the eclipse totality path, it gets longer.

Carrabassett Valley, 2 minutes, 21 seconds.

Eustis, 3 minutes, 2 seconds,

And the jackpot, 3 minutes, 26 seconds in Jackman.

In Rangeley, totality will last 2 minutes, 28.2 seconds.

But even though totality only lasts for seconds, the entire event where the moon slowly slides past the sun and then goes the other way will last for a few hours. slowly sliding past the sun until it locks into totality.


What to expect:

It starts off pretty slow but be prepared.

Watch for changes in the sky, even if there is a drizzle. Clouds do not necessarily prevent you from seeing the eclipse, but a thunderstorm would most likely prevent viewing. Also beware of fronts coming through. It is best to be on the other side of them. For Hobbs, he suggests locating 3 spots about 200 miles from one another, and then on Eclipse Day go to the spot with the best weather.


The Moon’s movement

Starting at least an hour before totality (the exact time depends on your location), you can watch a partial eclipse as the Moon slowly crosses in front of the Sun. As seen through eclipse glasses or a solar filter-equipped viewer like a telescope or binoculars, the Moon will take a larger and larger bite out of the Sun.


The quality of light

As more and more of the Sun gets eclipsed, you’ll notice some strange lighting effects.

Normally, the edges of your shadow under the full Sun are fuzzy. That’s because our big, round star generates light rays at an infinite number of angles. But as the Sun gets eclipsed into a crescent, it behaves more like a glow stick, putting out light in a more uniform direction. Objects aligned to the axis of the Sun’s crescent will cast sharp shadows.

You may also notice daylight starting to fade. What began as a bright, sunny day may start to appear overcast as the Moon blocks more and more sunlight.


Shadow bands

A rarer phenomenon to look for near totality is shadow bands. Shadow bands are undulating shadows that are most easily seen on plain surfaces. They are subtle but may appear for a few minutes before and after totality. These shadows might be seen on buildings or hills. Hobbs said he had only seen them once out of the four solar eclipses he’s seen.


The racing shadow

After observing the Moon’s leisurely progression across the Sun, you may be tempted to forget that the Earth, Moon, and Sun are locked in a high-speed orbital dance.

The Moon’s average speed around the Earth is around 3,700 kilometers per hour (2,300 miles per hour), meaning the darkest part of its shadow, the umbra, travels at the same speed. The Earth’s rotation changes the shadow’s effective speed depending on where you live, but it’s still quick. If you’re watching from a spot where you can see a long way in the direction of the oncoming shadow, you may be able to see it racing toward you on the ground or in the clouds.


Baily’s beads

As the last of the Sun’s rays disappear, you may see what looks like a string of beads along the Moon’s limb. These beads are caused by sunlight slipping through lunar valleys — you’re actually seeing the surface of the moon.


Chromosphere and prominences

For a few moments, you may be able to see a red arc along the Moon’s edge. This is the Sun’s middle atmosphere, known as the chromosphere. You might also see red prominences extending off the surface. These prominences are larger than Earth and consist of electrically charged hydrogen and helium, known as plasma.


Diamond ring

As the Baily’s beads dwindle, a shining bright diamond set into a glowing ring.


Twilight and sunset

The diamond ring disappears as the sky plunges into twilight, marking the start of totality. It is now safe to view the Sun with your unaided eye. But keep your protective glasses closed as this will not last very long.

The darkness of the sky overhead depends on how close you are to the center of the path of totality. The horizon all around you glows orange like at sunset.

With the Sun completely eclipsed, the corona emerges. The corona is the Sun’s outer atmosphere, visible as a wispy, white expanse billowing out from the Sun. At the center of the corona, the Moon is a black disk blocking the Sun’s surface. A solar eclipse is the only time you can see the corona with the unaided eye.


Stars and planets

As the sky darkens, bright stars and planets may emerge. Look for Venus to the Sun’s bottom-right. Jupiter should be to the Sun’s upper-left. You may see a comet near Jupiter, or other plants and stars.


Animal behavior

As the sky fades into twilight, some diurnal animals (active during the day) may act like it is nighttime, while nocturnal animals (active at night) may wake up and become active.

Before totality, tune into animal behaviors, are any birds singing or calling? Do you see or hear any noisy insects? During totality, you’ll have a lot to take in, but you may notice that some animal behaviors have changed, or that different animals have appeared.


After totality

All of the events that preceded totality will now occur in reverse. The diamond ring will re-emerge. The chromosphere and prominences may appear as the Moon slides off the Sun’s disk. Baily’s beads will blink on. And then the glare of the Sun’s surface will reappear.

Look for shadow bands again, along with the Moon’s shadow racing away from you. Temperatures will rise. Shadows will remain sharp along the Sun’s crescent axis. Then the Moon’s bite out of the Sun will decrease until it disappears.


How tall were you during the 2024 Solar Eclipse? You can answer that question by coming to the Solar Eclipse Event at the PACC on Monday, April 8. Winona Davenport demonstrates how it works. On the side is a rendition of what the total solar eclipse will look like.

Phillips Total Eclipse Event:

The Phillips Area Community Center (PACC) will host a Total Sun Eclipse Event on Monday, April 8, starting at 11 a.m. One of the main activities will be the drawing of the winner of the Eclipse Quilt Raffle at 1 p.m. Other activities on the day of the eclipse begin at 11 a.m. and include a potluck lunch at noon. Guests are not required to bring a dish to share. Those who choose to do so should contact Winona Davenport, 639-4296. “Easy listening” music during lunch will be provided by Gary and Lois Hall of Wilton.

The total eclipse begins at 2:22 pm. The sun will be totally darkened at 3:31 pm and will end at 4:33. (Safety glasses for viewing will be available for $3 a pair.)

Written by community contributor BJ Bangs. BJ Bangs is an award-winning freelance writer, author, photographer and blogger/journalist. Her blogs are www.bjbangs.net (Paws CatOSphere for Cat Lovers) and www.bjbangs.com (Author BJ Bangs)



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