We’ve all seen a crescent moon.
But how many people can say they’ve seen a crescent sun?
On Monday, area residents will be able to add themselves to that list, many for likely the first time ever, as a partial solar eclipse passes over New England for the first time in decades.
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s path around the earth falls directly in line with the sun, blocking the natural sunlight and effectively turning day to night for a few short minutes.
The event itself isn’t all that rare, Wheaton College Professor Anthony Houser said. But the moon’s position around the earth limits who can take part in the event when, creating the illusion that the astronomical phenomenon only comes about every once in a blue moon.
“It happens about every two years,” Houser, who runs the astronomy observatory at Wheaton, said. “It’s just rare that it happens locally. We haven’t had one on the contiguous United States since 1979. Whereas, I have foreign students from China, and they had two solar eclipses within two years not too long ago.
“It’s always happening somewhere. We’re just fortunate it’s happening coast to coast here.”
But, while the solar eclipse event is spanning across the entire United States for the first time in years, area residents won’t be able to enjoy its full effect.
A total eclipse is visible when a location on earth is directly within the sun’s main shadow — or umbra. If you happen to be within the wider shadow, called the penumbra, you see only a partial eclipse.
The path of totality this time around is limited to a stretch of the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina based on the positioning of the solar spheres in the universe Monday.
But even when the moon is directly aligned between the earth and sun, it doesn’t guarantee a total eclipse says amateur…