CHESTER, ILLINOIS – Eclipse chasers from Cayman traveled through Missouri and Illinois searching for clear skies to view Monday’s eclipse.
Cayman Islands Astronomical Society members Karen Perkins and Petro Kotze joined the Society’s former president Chris Cooke and his family, who traveled from the U.K., and three astronomers from Trinidad and Tobago to watch the solar phenomenon.
The group set out early Monday morning from St. Louis, Missouri, amid reports of encroaching cloudy weather. Plans to watch the eclipse from Festus, Missouri, a 35-minute drive from St. Louis, were also abandoned as weather reports indicated there was about a 50 percent chance of cloud coverage. Next stop was Perryville, Missouri, for another check of cloud coverage, before deciding on Chester, Illinois – across the Mississippi River and home of the cartoon character Popeye.
The team set up camp on a hillside above the Cohen Complex where other eclipse watchers had gathered.
Chester will also be in the totality path of the next total solar eclipse that will be visible in the United States, in 2024. T-shirts on sale at the site state “Twice in a Lifetime” and “We’ll see you in the shadow,” and even feature the ubiquitous Popeye.
For Mr. Cooke, this was his sixth total eclipse, or at least his sixth attempt to see one, as the weather has not always cooperated.
Following the total eclipse, which lasted two minutes, 39 seconds, Mr. Cooke described it as one of the best he’d seen.
“This eclipse was all about the corona. The detail of the corona, that’s what everyone is talking about,” he said, referring to the ring of light that is visible during the full eclipse.
This was Ms. Perkins’s third eclipse and Ms. Kotze’s first.
“The other two were totally cloudy, in China and England,” Ms. Perkins said. “I’ve never seen the corona before, or [the] diamond ring.” The “diamond ring” is the burst of brilliant light that appears at the edge of the eclipse just as totality passes.
Cayman students in South Carolina
Clifton Hunter High School physics teacher Tiyen Miller traveled with a dozen of his Year 11 students to Columbia, South Carolina, for the eclipse.
“It was excellent, and despite some concerns about clouds and rain up to the morning of the eclipse, we had glorious conditions with clear skies for the awesome event,” Mr. Miller said in an email.
“It’s been amazing as a teacher to see the students put their learning into a real yet extraordinary context. Hearing the students explain to others in the public about how the eclipse works, using terms like ‘umbra’ and ‘penumbra’ is wonderful.
“The students demonstrated a variety of safe eclipse projection techniques as part of their CXC physics coursework, and the trip was truly inspirational,” he said.