Where were you when the much-anticipated total solar eclipse occurred on Monday afternoon, Aug. 21?
Some diocesan employees at the Cathedral Square Plaza office building in downtown Cleveland took a few minutes to head downstairs and stand on East Ninth Street peering into the sky for a chance to see the rare occurrence. One of the viewers was Father Steve Vallenga, director of the diocesan mission office and pastor of St. Mary Parish, Painesville. He donned approved eclipse glasses to catch a glimpse of the event.
Toledo Bishop Daniel Thomas, Apostolic Administrator of the diocese, also put on his eclipse glasses and watched the event from his office window in Toledo.
According to NASA, sometimes when the moon orbits Earth, it moves between the sun and Earth. This doesn’t happen every month, because the moon doesn’t orbit in the exact same plane that the sun and Earth do – but it does happen occasionally. When it happens, the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching Earth. This causes an eclipse of the sun, or solar eclipse. During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow onto Earth.
There are three types of solar eclipses: total, partial and annular.
We experienced a total solar eclipse, which is only visible from a small area on Earth. The people who see the total eclipse are in the center of the moon’s shadow when it hits Earth. The sky became dark, as if it were night. For a total eclipse to take place, the sun, moon and Earth must be in a direct line.
The path of totality for this eclipse began at 9:06 a.m. in Oregon and swept southeast across the United States, ending at 4:10 p.m. in South Carolina. In Cleveland, we achieved about 80 percent totality at about 2:30 p.m., so it briefly appeared to be like dusk.
If you missed this eclipse, make a note to plan for the next one. Cleveland will be in the path of totality for the April 8, 2024 solar eclipse. The path will stretch from Mexico northeast to Montreal, Canada. Clevelanders can expect several minutes of eclipse conditions during that event.