Mountain Vista Chases the Moon
WHEATLAND, WYOMING -
Most days don’t start at night. August 21, 2017 was different. At 4:45 in the morning chemistry and physics teacher Jeff Lima pointed his telescope toward the sky. Venus was all he saw. The moon had other plans.
“I’ve always enjoyed science and when we found out there was an eclipse happening today, we were like yeah I gotta go,” said sophomore Emily Farini. She was one of over 50 students and staff that gathered in front of Mountain Vista High School as they prepared for a trip to Wheatland, Wyoming. “I’m excited and I hope we make it,” said chemistry teacher Allison Tanco.
When the bus pulled up at 5:15, the journey began. A normal two and a half hour trip was certain to be longer. Many reports had Wyoming’s population doubling for this rare event.
Why go to all the trouble? “Oh the difference is literally night and day,” explained Tanco. “Going to totality the sun literally disappears from the sky, and I think that would be a cool experience.”
It’s an experience 12 years in the making for earth science teacher Jason Cochrane. “August 21st was the next date that I had mentioned 12 years ago, but I never really thought in the future that I would be standing in the path of totality.”
After a five hour bus trip he was there - on the football field at Wheatland High School in Wyoming. There was nothing left to do but watch the sky with eclipse glasses, cameras, and telescopes. “You can google images. You can look at images in a textbook, but to experience something yourself creates feelings that sometimes are just unexplainable that can’t be shared,” said Cochrane.
As the time drew closer the temperature dropped. Drops upwards of 30 degrees are not unusual in the path of totality. The lighting also took on an unusual orange glow.
When the moment finally arrived darkness and jubilation filled the air. “It’s beautiful,” said Lima as he gazed into his telescope. A crowd of students took turns peering through - each in disbelief.
After twelve years and a five hour drive, for two minutes time stood still.