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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Students learn about eclipse phenomenon

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The Collegian Logo

By Victor Aldana/reporter

Merging history and science, NE physics and astronomy associate professor Raymond Benge talked to students Oct. 17 about what makes solar eclipses rare, yet common occurrences.

Solar eclipses tend to happen somewhere on Earth almost every year, Benge said.

“Twice a year, the orbit of the sun and the moon line up to Earth causing a possible eclipse,” he said. “A partial solar eclipse occurs every five to six years.”

Benge showed the students a picture of Harvard student astronomers in Texas during a historical, total solar eclipse in Texas. The picture was taken July 29, 1878.

The eclipse was a total sensation because it was the first total solar eclipse that occurred across the U.S. It was also a major eclipse after professional astronomy research began. Benge said before satellites and sending astronauts to space, the only way to study the sun was during solar eclipses.

Benge listed some environmental changes to look for during an eclipse such as shadows beginning to look odd, the sky getting dimmer, weather changes, animals acting differently and darkness during the day.

Benge described his experience during the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

“There were a few clouds before the actual total eclipse occurred when the moon began to cover the sun, the temperature dropped and the wind changed directions making the clouds to disappear,” he said. “The birds were chirping, and the crickets began to do their nightly routine.”

Benge said he had five different telescopes and cameras with him ready to capture images of the solar eclipse.

“This one was a dry run for me because I want to be ready for the Texas total solar eclipse,” he said.

On April 8, 2024, people who live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area can experience a total solar eclipse. A partial solar eclipse, where 85 percent of the sun will be covered up by the moon, will take place Oct. 14, 2023.

“It will be a cool thing to see,” Benge said.

Benge compared the total eclipse in August to the one happening over Texas in 2024.  The next solar eclipse will have a wider path, which means the moon will be closer to Earth causing it to be a longer eclipse, he said.

“The only downside of this eclipse is that it will be occurring in April, which is April showers, very rainy days in Texas,” Benge said.

Benge told students they can also experience partial solar eclipses in 2038 and 2039. If they are willing to travel, a total solar eclipse will also be visible Aug. 12, 2045, in Oklahoma.

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