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Experiencing a Total Solar Eclipse

My father-in-law, Bill (83), enjoying his first total solar eclipse in Greensboro Bend, VT

Experiencing a total solar eclipse is like nothing else. This was my first total eclipse, and it did not disappoint. Experiencing a total eclipse is a definite bucket list event for anyone. It was worth the traffic the long drive, the frustration at keeping two 9-month-old labs occupied for hours as the adults experienced one of the universe’s wonders.

As mentioned in my previous post, my husband, sister-in-law, father-in-law and I (and the two dogs, Abby and Sid) traveled to Hill Farmstead in Greensboro Bend, Vermont to experience the eclipse. Hill Farmstead had a lottery for parking passes as they had gotten a considerable amount of snow from the same storm last Thursday that dumped 17 inches in my yard. We were one of 80 parking passes that were reserved for the eclipse event.

We left New Boston, NH at 830 am on Monday and arrived in Greensboro Bend just before noon.

The weather in northern Vermont was perfect. Bluebird skies and 60F. We should have packed sunscreen because we all got a bit rosy with the reflections of the suns radiation off the white snow. We settled in to our camp chairs and enjoyed the uniqueness of a sunny 60 degree April day in New England.

Temperature Change

As the Sun was approximately 50% eclipsed, I felt the noticeable decrease in temperature and switched out my baseball cap for a ski hat. During an eclipse the humidity rises, and the temperatures will drop closer to the dew point, or the temperature at which the air becomes saturated. The temperatures rise again as the eclipse ends and sunlight is restored. Air is a poor conductor of heat. As the radiation from the sun is blocked by the moon, the air molecules rapidly lose heat and cool.

In Greensboro Bend we experienced a 10-degree difference in temperature from 59°F to 49°F during totality. Burlington, VT, only miles away experienced a 3 degree drop from 64°F to 61°F.

Historic Weather Data, Burlington International Airport, April 8, 2024

The top of Mount Washington which was located at 99.7% totality experienced a 2.2°F drop in temperature. Stewartstown, New Hampshire at Coleman State Park recorded a 14.6°F change in temperature during totality (2024,! The temperature difference was variable based on the location and ground conditions. Greensboro Bend still had a decent several inches of snow on the fields which likely accounted for the difference in temperature change. This variation shows the differences in the microclimates and meteorological processes between the surface and the troposphere.

  • FUN FACT: Dec 9, 1834: An article in the Gettysburg Republican Banner reported that during an eclipse temperatures dropped 28°F, from 78°F to 50°F.

Celestial Observations

As the eclipse went "total", and your eyes quickly adjusted to the dimmed light, various celestial objects appeared in the sky. The sky does not get as dark as it does at night but rather as dark as it is about 20 to 40 minutes before sunrise or 20 to 40 minutes after sunset. This is when the first magnitude stars and planets show themselves. Venus is the brightest object in the sky with a magnitude around -3.9. Jupiter is the second brightest object at -2.0 magnitude.

During totality, Venus and Jupiter were observed in the sky. If the sun were a clock, Venus was at 5 o’clock and Jupiter was at 10:30.

Greensboro Bend, Vermont at Totality, Venus visible southeast of the eclipsed sun

Photo Credit Tim Erickson, taken with iPhone14

Coronal Observations

"The human eye, hasan unmatched ability to view subtle details within the inner and outer corona, in a way no emulsion can." George Lovi, Sky and Telescope Magazine
April 8, 2024, Total Solar Eclipse at totality, Vermont

As our eyes adjusted to the dimmed light, solar prominences on the surface of the sun came into focus. They flared just like throwing a dry piece of wood on a campfire. They flared bright magenta and red a stark contrast to the white glowing corona and black shadow of the moon. A solar prominence is a large plasma and magnetic field structure from the suns photosphere. Monday’s eclipse showed an active sun surface because 2024 is nearing a solar maximum year in the solar cycle.

During a total solar eclipse is the only time we can see the Suns atmosphere (the corona) from Earth. In order to observe the dimmer corona which is obscured by the bright photosphere.

In addition to prominences, helmet streamers were observed in the corona. Helmet streamers are magnetic field loops. As solar activity increased during a solar maximum years they are evenly distributed (symmetrical) around the corona. In a solar minimum year they are more often observed closer to the heliographic equator. The solar wind elongates the loops so they look like flower petals around the sun.

Experiencing a total solar eclipse is a bucket list item. Now that I’ve experienced one I have the eclipse bug and my husband and I are planning a future trip to Australia 2028. If you ever get the chance to witness one do it. It is an experience you will remember forever.


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