Covites witness total eclipse in Tennessee
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Although Central Texans weren’t in the path of totality of Monday afternoon’s solar eclipse that trekked across America, they still took to the outdoors to study the skies with eclipse glasses and other ways to watch.
Some purchased glasses before local stores like Walmart sold out, and others made pinhole viewers from cardboard boxes as a way to view the progress of the event.
On Monday, the skies didn’t darken like they did in the path of totality, but Covites were able to get a good view and capture photos of the elusive eclipse with varying degrees of success. At only 68 percent coverage, the sun still had much of its brightness.
With Central Texas and the Copperas Cove area only being in the 68 percent area of eclipse coverage, millions traveled to the 70-mile-wide area of totality that stretched from Oregon to the South Carolina coast.
Linda Lapierre of Copperas Cove is the creative arts teacher at Taylor Creek Elementary School. She said that she and her husband, Coady, and son, Carson, and daughter, Cassidy, had been planning for years to make the trip to Clarksville, Tenn. to view the total eclipse.
“This was something we knew about and had talked about doing since our kids were small, about 10 years ago,” Lapierre said, adding that they stayed with college friends of her husband.
Although Lapierre described being present at the moment of totality as one of the “top 10 experiences of my life,” she still had her elementary students in mind during the big event.
Several times on Monday, she used Facebook Live to talk to her students back home in Texas about the experience.
The biggest thrill for her came when the moon completely blocked out the sun, which lasted for approximately two-and-a-half minutes in that area.
“Right before it happened, you could tell something was going on – even though the sun was still bright, the temperature dropped, the sky had a weird color, like right before a tornado,” Lapierre said.
And then, the sky went dark.
“Street lights came on, it was very dark,” Lapierre said. “It was absolutely magnificent to see. I felt like my heart was beating out of my chest as I was describing it for my students.”
Coady Lapierre was able to capture that moment with his camera, a Nikon.
“I think he filled up a whole memory card in those two minutes,” Linda added.
Traffic was heavy with those leaving the area and was especially bad between Nashville and Memphis on the interstate, she added. Was the long trip worth it?
“Yes, it most definitely was worth it,” Lapierre said.
Central Texas has a little less than seven years to prepare for the next total solar eclipse to cross over the continental United States. This eclipse will take place on Monday, April 8, 2024. Copperas Cove, Gatesville, Lampasas and Killeen will all be inside the path of the 2024 eclipse’s totality.
As a member of the Five Hills Art Guild and the planning chair for the 2018 festival, Lapierre is already speculating about what the eclipse could mean for local tourists and visitors to Central Texas.
“We could always have our art festival the weekend before the 2018 eclipse. What a draw that would be!” she said.
Throughout the days and weeks leading up to the 2017 eclipse, warnings circulated about being on the lookout for fake eclipse glasses, and warnings also came from physicians and optometrists about not viewing the sun directly for any length of time during the eclipse.
Lapierre said an individual she knows who works for a school district in Arkansas said one district had ordered multiple pairs of eclipse glasses from a vendor on Amazon—which were later recalled.