A total solar eclipse cast its shadow over the United States on Monday. The path of totality made its way from Oregon to South Carolina and Tampa Bay saw a portion of the excitement.
The total solar eclipse, which is the first to traverse the continental United States in decades, first made contact over Lincoln City, Oregon. Crowds of people donning special-purpose solar filters cheered and roared as the moon completely blocked the sun and cast a 70-mile wide shadow stretching from Oregon to South Carolina.
For brief moments, the sky over various U.S. cities plunged into darkness and temperatures dropped as much as 12 degrees. The sun's outer atmosphere, which is usually obscured by glare, appeared as a ring of ethereal white wisps around the moon while it blocked the solar surface.
In areas with clear skies, bright stars and planets appeared in the darkened daytime sky. And as the sun reemerged from behind the moon, it created an astonishing "diamond ring" effect.
The Tampa Bay area saw 81% of the sun covered by the moon on Monday. The eclipse started at approximately 1:17 p.m. and ended at 4:14 p.m. with a maximum coverage at 2:50 p.m. There was a mix of sun and clouds with temps in the low to mid 90s. Get today's forecast here.
Hundreds of people packed the quad area of St Petersburg College’s Gibbs Campus to watch the solar eclipse together. They packed every inch of grass in the college's open area between buildings to use the school's professional telescopes, give special eclipse glasses a whirl and watch a live projection of the eclipse on a TV screen.
It’s not often Mark Babiarz’s can start a lesson in the classroom and then let his students experience it for real. Bayonet Point Middle School is a magnet school focusing on science and technology. And together they gathered on the football field and looked up in amazement.
“It’s cool,” said one student.
As the moon covered up the sun Babiraz continued teaching and quizzing his class.
“We can say the moon is the same size as the sun is that for real or no?”
Some students got an even closer look at the eclipse, thanks to a science teacher’s telescope.
Bayonet Point is only in it’s second year with the STEM program, and it seems to have invigorated the kids and the teachers.
“The more technology we get here at the STEM school, it just makes the kids, want to learn. They come in and question, they are inquisitive. They problem solve, they want to know, why is this happening,” said Babiraz.
Not only did all the students and teachers get classes, but the school ordered enough for all staff members, even the bus drivers.