CAC Experiences The Great American Solar Eclipse, On and Off Campus
Monday, August 21, the United States experienced a total solar eclipse for the first time in nearly a century. The moon’s shadow fell on a 71-mile-wide path, stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, and put over 12.2 million people in partial or total darkness. Luckily, Little Rock was positioned to view The Great American Solar Eclipse, as the event has been nick-named, at 90% totality.
Before the school year began, CAC administrators began planning for students to experience the natural phenomenon together. Scheduling arrangements were made, special eclipse-viewing glasses ordered and snacks bought. The excitement was palpable that Monday morning. Faculty and staff were giddy and students could be heard singing varying renditions of Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the hallways. No one seemed to mind that they only knew the chorus – everyone sang at the top of their lungs through big, goofy grins.
Each person was given a pair of eclipse-viewing glasses as they stepped outside. For the next hour, jaws dropped and exclamations full of wonder rose across the student body. The sight was truly something to behold, and the students saw first-hand the marriage of God’s intelligent design and our ever-expanding knowledge of science.
CAC grandparents Steve and Teresa Burton saw this rare event as the perfect opportunity to make lasting memories with their family. They decided to take their seven oldest grandchildren in a motorhome and drive nine hours to Lick Creek, Illinois, to see the eclipse in 100% totality.
“There wasn’t a lot of planning involved, if we’re being honest,” Steve admitted. “We kind of live life on the edge anyway. Once we worked out the logistics to take the seven oldest grandchildren, it was a challenge to find the glasses. Less than a week before the eclipse, those special glasses are hard to find. But, I found some on Amazon and they got delivered the Friday before the eclipse on Monday. So that Sunday we loaded up in the motorhome and headed north.”
They arrived at the United Missionary Baptist Church parking lot at 9:30 a.m. and set up camp. Not surprisingly, a crowd of people had the same idea. There was even a group from Arkansas, and the Burtons saw some familiar faces.
To pass the time while waiting for the eclipse to begin, the seven grandchildren started a baseball game, played cards and spent time just being together. As the eclipse reached totality, the temperature dropped by 10 degrees and the street lights flickered on.
“It was really spectacular,” Steve said. “There were things shooting out all directions from behind the moon. We tried and tried to capture it on camera, but we couldn’t. It was dark enough to see the stars, and for those couple of minutes, it was almost an eerie experience.”
The crew took one last look at the sky and headed home. Teresa and Steven both noted that even though the plan seemed crazy, (they did fit nine people in one motorhome, after all) it was well worth the trip to be able to spend time with family.
“As grandparents we know we’re lucky. The cousins love being together, so we just try to make that happen as much as we can. And we almost missed it this time. We almost let that opportunity go by. And we’re really happy that we caught ourselves,” Steve said.
Through watery eyes, Teresa recalled, “As we were driving home our 11-year-old grandson came up the front of the motorhome and said, ‘This has just been the best experience of my life.’ And that – right there – made it all worth it.”
Click here to view CAC’s Facebook Photo Album of the event.