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Montanans strive to see eclipse through cloudy skies

Posted at 5:28 PM, Apr 08, 2024

GREAT FALLS — Monday marked the first total solar eclipse visible in North America since 2017. For the event, teachers at Paris Gibson Education Center set up telescopes outside to teach the community about the cosmic event.

“Today what we're doing is we're celebrating the great eclipse,” said Jonathan Logan, a science teacher at Paris. “Unfortunately, in Montana, we're only going to get about 36% in Great Falls anyway. And so what we're trying to do is teach the idea.”

Mr. Logan, along with some students and other community members, set up dioramas and props to showcase what the eclipse is, how it happens, what it will look like, and how to enjoy it.

Solar eclipse delights viewers in Great Falls, despite clouds

“You don't necessarily need a telescope for watching these solar eclipses,” said Logan, “You can just wear [solar] glasses and look up a great view there. Make sure they're certified glasses. You can be as simple as just a regular card and a card with a hole in it. And all you do is just hold it facing the sun and you can get the shadow.”

A solar eclipse is when the moon is between the sun and the Earth, casting a shadow on the Earth. Unfortunately, there was significant cloud coverage during the actual eclipse in Great Falls. However, it was still informative and exciting to the kids who were able to look at the sun with safe equipment and understand the science behind it all.

“Anytime we can share science or share events in the world, kind of take away all the magic and show exactly how it's working, it's always a good thing for science,” said Logan.

The next total solar eclipse visible from North America will not occur until 2044.