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“Beautiful and rare,” region preps for solar eclipse


For some, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For others, it’s an adventure to find the best location to witness “totality,” or as close to a full solar eclipse as possible. And for many local children, it’s an unexpected early dismissal from school.

When the sun, moon and Earth align in that rarest of cosmic orders on Monday, millions of Americans are expected to be donning protective glasses to watch as the moon passes in front of the sun causing a near-total solar eclipse for just over seven minutes.

The moon’s shadow path will make landfall on Mexico’s Pacific coast, cross the U.S. from Texas to Maine and leave North America by way of Newfoundland, Canada and into the Atlantic Ocean, according to NASA maps.

Most Bucks County school districts plan to dismiss students early Monday, citing safety considerations.

“This is a rare and exciting phenomenon that has not occurred to this magnitude in Pennsylvania since 1806, and the next total solar eclipse that can be seen from the United States will not be until 2044,” said acting Central Bucks School District superintendent Jim Scanlon, in a message to parents.

Central Bucks is one of the districts that will be sending students home early.

“We want our students and families to have a positive and safe experience as we witness this cool environmental phenomenon,” said Scanlon.

Candy Traven may be able to experience the totality or close to it when she visits her friend’s Ohio cottage on Lake Erie to take in the special moments of midday darkness.

“The eclipse is a significant event out of our control. It is also a lifetime event. The next one in this country doesn’t happen for another 20 years! I’ll be in my 80s, saying I remember the last solar eclipse,” said Traven, who lives in Kintnersville, where she and her husband Lloyd Traven own Peace Tree Farm.

“I pray it’s a new beginning and time of positive change,” she said in an email.

Kristen Gabriel is heading to Buffalo for the eclipse with two friends with whom she graduated from Palisades High School.

“I guess it’s the fact the sun is with us every day of our lives and then every so often you get this opportunity for a star that is essential for all human life get completely covered by the moon that’s 400 times smaller than it. It seems really unlikely and yet it happens and we can see it happen. It feels really special,” Gabriel said in an email.

Gabriel’s travel-mate Carter Pason wants to find the best possible spot to take in the eclipse.

“It’s a beautiful and rare event so I’m excited to witness it where it’s the most impactful,” Pason said.

Monday’s total eclipse is expected to last just over seven minutes, an unusually long time. The last time totality lasted longer than that was in 1973 over Africa, NASA reported. It won’t happen again until 2150 over the Pacific.

There’s no way Jeanne DiVincenzo, is going to miss this planetary marvel.

With her daughter living in upstate New York, the Chester County resident said she began planning early.

“A year ago, when I first learned of the eclipse, I ‘reserved’ her guest room and said that we’d be there,” DiVincenzo said. “So we’ve been planning ever since…a little eclipse party in their back yard.”

Those lucky enough to be invited to Peter Jon Snyder and his partner Kim Eminhizer’s “off the grid” property in New York’s Adirondack Mountains will be able to marvel at the sight of the total eclipse as it presents itself directly above them.

More than 150,000 people are expected to be in Watertown, NY, just 15 minutes from Snyder’s part-time home, to view the spectacular sight.

Another eclipse reaching from coast-to-coast in the United States is not expected until 2045.

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