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a dark view of the sky during the total solar eclipse near dartmouth, with a glowing ring of light in the sky and warm orange light on the horizon

If you've been watching the news recently (or happened to look up in the sky on April 8th), you know that the United States recently had a total solar eclipse, and it passed right by Dartmouth! I took the day to head north to a small town called Barton, Vermont, to see the total solar eclipse. Here's how it went:

We woke up at 6:00 AM and headed for Barton—myself, my roommate Zach, and my friend Xavier—to catch a ride to "totality." Totality is the view of a solar eclipse where, from that angle, the moon passes in front of and completely covers the sun for just a minute or two. This year, Dartmouth was lucky enough to be located right below the path of totality!

After a little over an hour of driving, we arrived. We set up on a mountain with a great view of the sky and some of the valley in the area below. We were about 4 hours early, and so we killed time by throwing snowballs at each other and trying on our solar eclipse glasses. The weather was perfect: clear blue skies as far as the eye could see.

a picture of the blue sky with the mountains in the background
A view of the sky from the spot we settled on to watch the eclipse!

martin and his roommate zach staring up and wearing their solar eclipse glasses, in preparation for the eclipse
Here's my roommate Zach and I trying on our solar eclipse glasses in anticipation of the eclipse!

When the time finally came, Xavier shouted that the sun was suddenly partially covered, and we all put on our eclipse glasses. He was right. For the next hour or so, we watched in awe as the dark figure of the moon slowly inched over the sun. Even with just a tiny sliver of the sun left uncovered (as seen through the glasses), it was still too bright to look at without glasses. Then, just a few moments later, all of a sudden, totality.

Totality was the coolest thing I have ever seen in my life. For just a few minutes—which passed like seconds—the sun was completely covered. The sky fell dark, the birds went silent, and the moon was just a glowing circle of light, a beautiful orange ring in the sky. A chill fell over the valley, and I heard nearby hikers shouting in awe. My eyes were glued to the sky. It was beautiful.

an orange ring of light surrounding the moon, as it glows with an etheral glow during a total solar eclipse
Here's the best picture we captured of the total eclipse, not quite as good as in real life!

Then, as suddenly as it started, the very edge of the moon began to shine brighter as the sun crept out from underneath—and all of a sudden I couldn't look at it anymore—it was so bright! For the next hour, the sun inched away from the moon until it was like nothing had ever happened. I was still in awe.

a view of the darkened sky during the solar eclipse, a warm orange in the distance and the glowing red ring in the center of the sky
Here's a view of the sky during the eclipse, covered in darkness.

It took us about five hours to get back to campus due to the traffic on the way out of Vermont. I took the extra time to catch up on some studying for my physics class, unrelated to the moon or the eclipse.

While we were in the zone of totality, back on campus Dartmouth held a community-wide watch party on the Green, where the coverage of the sun by the moon was about 98%. I heard from friends that the Green was more packed than ever, with people just as in awe of the eclipse as I had been. I was sad to have missed seeing it with my friends on the Green, but totality was well worth it. 

At Dartmouth, you'll find people passionate about anything and everything. This spans from the fundamental sciences and mathematics to a vibrant community dedicated to the arts, humanities, global understanding, and environmental or interdisciplinary exploration. In fact, it would be hard to find a topic that someone here isn't studying or researching. On April 8th, a few excited friends and I saw "totality," despite over six hours of driving and an entire day's trip. This trip was unique to my Dartmouth experience and something I'll never forget. Those are the sorts of things that people here at Dartmouth get excited about and dedicate themselves to, and it's why I'm so excited to be here and continue experiencing more things like this.


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