Time seemed to stand still at 2:44 p.m. EST in the Diocese of Trenton, as those from Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties looked to the heavens for the partial eclipse of the sun Aug. 21.
Photo Gallery: Mercer County CYO Campers Watch Eclipse
Though millions across the nation saw everything from a full eclipse to a partial viewing, it was reported locally that about 80 percent of the sun was covered as the moon crossed its path.
Among those wearing special viewing glasses was Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who stood on the steps at the diocesan Chancery in Lawrenceville, and a group of youngsters who attend the Mercer County CYO camp in Yardville.
Thanks to the Mercer County CYO, some 245 young campers were witnesses to history as the agency’s Yardville Day Camp held an eclipse viewing party for staff and children ages 3 to 13.
An application on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration website for certified eclipse-approved glasses yielded 150 pairs at no charge, said Patrick M. Hardiman, Yardville branch director.
To prepare the children for what they would witness, Todd Shulman, a summer camp counselor for the past 15 years, drew upon his knowledge as a science teacher in Nottingham High School, Hamilton Township. Shulman led the youngsters in a discussion of the historic implications and astronomy of eclipses.
“It was really helpful to all of us and a good lead in to the eclipse,” Hardiman said.
During the Monday afternoon event, children split into two groups to view the 2017 “Great American Eclipse,” so named because it was visible across the entire country from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coasts. In turn, half of them remained inside the Monsignor Toomey Annex, safely shielding their eyes from the sight, while the others donned the glasses and watched the midday skies darken.
Others from the Diocese of Trenton viewed the rare event while on trips far from home.
Melissa Whelan, a teacher in Trinity Hall, an all-girls school located in Tinton Falls, took a detour on her way to drop off her college-bound children and journeyed to the Midwest to see the total eclipse, or totality. Pausing at Little Grassy United Methodist Camp in Makanda, Ill., Whelan snapped several photos of the waning sun and a rainbow.
“What an awesome display of the beauty of God’s creation we were treated to today,” Whelan said.
An eclipse is an alignment of the earth and moon so as to obscure the sun, making it seem as if the fiery orb changes to a crescent shape and nearly disappearing from the sky. The Aug. 21 eclipse was the first time since February 1979 that such a sighting was possible within the continental United States. The next full solar eclipse will cross the United States in April 2024.