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Staring at the syzygy

August 22, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Syzygy: an astronomical term describing an event in which three celestial bodies are lined up with another. Use that word in your next game of Scrabble.

Fort Myers Beach students and residents gathered at Bay Oaks campus Monday afternoon, joining thousands across the nation to watch a nearly once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.

The 2017 solar eclipse started at roughly 1:45 p.m. as the moon began to edge in front of the sun.

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Harrison Alward declared the eclipse looked more like a space ship made of cheese.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, with only the solar flares of the sun blazing around the circumference of the moon. All of North America got to see at least a partial eclipse; the path of totality, through which the moon completely blocked the sun, stretched from northern California through South Carolina, according to NASA. Florida was not in the path of totality, but a partial eclipse was still able to be viewed. In anticipation of the interest in the eclipse, NASA created a webpage full of information about the solar event.

Fort Myers Beach resident Annette Dwyer remembers seeing a solar eclipse when she was 8 years old. She and her classmates didn't use solar glasses to see it, but made pinhole projectors out of boxes, she said. Her children at Fort Myers Beach Elementary were finished with school in time to see the eclipse, but other schools in Lee County have a later ending time. She picked up her middle-schooler, Bo, early so that he would get the chance to see it with the family.

Yoshe Garay, a fifth-grader at the beach school, could hardly wait to see the phenomenon. The second she was out of the Bay Oaks Rec Center doors, she donned the special glasses and peered up at the sky.

"It's so cool," she said. "I've never seen it in my life."

Danielle Felton, program leader at Bay Oaks, helped organize the special event for the Club Rec students, who are enrolled in the campus's afterschool program. The staff provided a pair of solar glasses for all their program participants so they could watch the partial eclipse.

"I saw one when I was 8," Felton said. "But this one was exciting. The kids were excited."

The last total solar eclipse crossing the United States happened in Feb. 1979, according to NASA, and crossed the northern reaches of the county and southern areas of Canada. The next solar eclipse will come April 8, 2024.

Harrison Alward, a Club Rec participant, had a whimsical interpretation of the eclipse.

"It looks like a space ship made out of cheese," he said.



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