UMaine prepares to gather data for the total solar eclipse in April

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 1:59 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2023 at 2:14 PM EDT
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - We’re less than 200 days away from a total solar eclipse which will be visible in northern Maine for three and a half minutes.

It’s all happening on April 8, 2024, so mark those calendars!

The eclipse can be seen in certain portions of the southern, midwestern, and northeastern U.S.

While solar eclipses typically take over two hours from start to finish, experts say the totality itself only lasts a few minutes at each location.

Shawn Laatsch and his team at the Versant Power Astronomy Center at the University of Maine are preparing to have high schoolers and members of the public involved in gathering scientific data for this major astronomical event.

He’ll have a team in Jackman which is expected to have the best views of the eclipse in the state.

Teams of citizen scientists will be at 35 stations along the path of totality which stretches from Texas through Maine.

Laatsch explains, ”That path is about 150 miles wide or so, and if you’re on either side, you’ll only see a partial eclipse. The difference between seeing a partial and a total is the difference between basically seeing a lightning bug or getting hit by lightning. It really is that dramatic. You’ll see brighter stars in totality and maybe a few bright planets, but also, the colors are really silvery, which is an interesting effect. The temperature will drop a few degrees. Birds and other animals pay attention. You do need to get out and see one of these,”

If you miss this total eclipse in 2024, you’re next chance to see one will be in 2079.

The last solar eclipse in Maine was in 1963.

A partial eclipse can be seen on October 14th of this year.

The Versant Power Astronomy Center in Orono is selling solar eclipse glasses for $2 a pair for that and for the total eclipse on April 8th.