By MARINA WATERS
The moon may have blocked the sun on Monday, Aug. 21, but the Town of Jonesborough blocked off Main Street for an Eclipse Block Party in celebration of the 2017 solar eclipse.
With an eclipse totality of 97 percent, Jonesborough was flooded with sky-watchers of all ages for a day of face painting, eclipse-themed treats and sun-gazers speckling the streets and sidewalks of historic downtown.
Everyone came with the same goal in mind—to watch the eclipse. But some event-goers, like Jonesborough resident Tava Cook, the research went beyond just what the sky would look like; Cook was also interested in what Jonesborough would look like at the exact moment the eclipse took place.
“I think it’s very interesting to hear what’s going to happen, how it’s going to get dark, the birds are going to roost, it’s going to cool down. All those things,” Cook explained. “It’s just interesting. You don’t get to experience it very often, so you should at least experience it.”
Before the street cooled down and the sun rays were blocked by the moon, Cook was reminded of the first eclipse she saw in 1978 just a few feet from where she once stood—only without her solar eclipse glasses.
“I’ve seen an eclipse before but not exactly like this. And not to where we were so close to totality like we are,” Cook said. “It was the last one. David Wise, who used to have the grocery store there, had a mirror and he reflected it up on the side of the building. You could watch it in real-time on the building without glasses. There wasn’t a big movement for glasses like there is now. And it worked perfectly.”
For some, the eclipse was a first and served as an educational experience; though some school systems took the day to watch the celestial event as a normal school day, students were afforded a day to enjoy the eclipse with their families like Samantha and Jason Ward of Johnson City.
“We brought them out to Jonesborough because we thought it would be a good spot to come to. We were looking for the right place to be that’s close by and would be a fun place,” Samantha and Jason’s dad, Brian Ward, said. “We’ve been talking about it for a few weeks now. Especially the little guy. He’s really into space.”
Those interested in the science of the eclipse phenomenon got to hear from Rico Ignace, an astrophysicist professor at East Tennessee State University who explained just what an eclipse is and that Venus would also be visible during the eclipse.
However, for science-lovers like Jason donning a sun-themed t-shirt, the sun and moon were the real stars of the show. And it was a show he clearly realized he might not see very often.
“I like science and I’m also very excited for the corona,” Jason said, peering up at the sun behind his certified solar eclipse glasses. “The moon is blocking the sun! And I’m only going to see it once in my life.”