Several University of New Hampshire faculty members have spent the past few days traveling to areas of the country that are in the path of totality for Monday's solar eclipse.
John Gianforte is an astronomer and physics lecturer at UNH, and called into NHPR Monday morning from Sweetwater, Tennessee:
“That’s just a couple of kilometers north of the exact center line of the path, which is great. It means we’ll get a maximum duration, which is about two minutes, thirty-eight-point-eight seconds. That’s what we’re going to get here. And the sky is clear this morning.”
This will be Gianforte’s fourth time viewing a total solar eclipse, but he says each time is a unique experience.
Jody Wilson is a researcher with UNH’s Space Science Center. He’s driving with his parents to Hopkinsville Community College in Kentucky, where there’s a viewing area along with eclipse-related events.
“I'm traveling to the path of totality for the one-of-a-kind experience,” he wrote in an email. “I've been to one total solar eclipse before (Aruba 1998) and it's hard to describe what it's like to be there. The moon and eclipsed sun seem tiny overhead in the sky, but the umbra shadow that engulfs you on the ground is undeniably huge, because everything around you falls into shadow - so you get a better sense of just how large and far away the celestial bodies are.”