The eclipse of 2017 was the first transcontinental path of totality in almost 100 years. My own excitement grew as the date approached, but being a new teacher to the area and only a week under my belt, I was hesitant to ask for a field trip. Because our school was not within the path of totality, the eclipse was not being pushed very much. Instead of witnessing a partial eclipse in Peachtree City, I encouraged many of my students to ask their parents to make it a family trip. But, with only a week before the eclipse, I finally asked for that field trip, and I was happily surprised when I was met with enthusiasm and support. It took almost 3 days to plan and get final approval from the county school board, and permission forms and donations were collected by the Friday before the big event.
Our bus ride was long, but the students’ positive energy carried us through the traffic of fellow spectators. Four hours after we departed, we arrived at our destination: Lavonia, GA. It was the farthest we could travel into totality without leaving the state, a constraint of our late field trip approval. The students rushed off the bus, threw on their glasses and looked up… “It’s already started!” one student exclaimed. It was 1:18pm and a tiny bite was missing from the sun.
We ushered our students to set up their blankets in a beautiful grass field, and they began to eat lunch. As the students ate their food, a parent chaperone began unboxing his telescope, an 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with a digital camera and solar filters. By 2:10 PM, students had finished lunch and were ready for the main event. We counted down to 2:15 and started collecting data with the Pasco digital probes. Students then moved over to see the eclipse through the telescope’s digital screen. They were in awe when they saw sun spots and a massive solar prominence. Before we knew it, we were counting down again to the time of totality, 2:39 PM for our site. Cars stopped, voices faded, and even Mother Nature paused for this climatic view.