If you haven’t heard, there is a major phase craze happening, literally! On Monday, April 8th there will be a total solar eclipse, also known as the moon phase, where the moon passes between the sun and the earth. As the moon casts its dramatic darkness over our region for over three minutes, we all get a chance to share in this phenomenon. It’s almost a gift that the NEK is smack dab in the middle of the path of totality. So, while the Moon will rarely orbit in the same plane as the sun and Earth, it’s even rare that right here, where we live is the center of the path. Hence, the craze of the moon phase is in high gear and a chance for us to embrace welcoming community and embracing safety!

Why is there so much talk over such a short scientific event? It’s not only because of its rare occurrence, but it comes with its dangers too! While the sky darkens, it can be confusing. Most people would naturally look up! “Why is it getting so dark in the middle of the day?” However, during this moon phase where the moon is blocking out the sun’s brightness, it’s not the time to be looking directly at the sun! NASA (https://science.nasa.gov/eclipses/future-eclipses/eclipse-2024/) as well as many other partners including our own Vermont Department of Health, North Country Hospital, and our school systems are doing their best to educate children and families about these dangerous rays! NASA says, “It is not safe to look directly at the Sun without specialized eye protection for solar viewing. Viewing any part of the bright Sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury.” They caution everyone that the event is so dangerous that everyone should be using safe solar glasses, also called “eclipse” glasses, or a handheld solar viewer. NASA does say that you can still use a pinhole projector for an indirect view too. All glasses should have specific markings that say, “ISO.” If possible, and you have extra, consider keeping them handy, or even better, sharing yours with those around you during the event.

When it comes to the sun, we do know that the sun isn’t friendly to our eyes or our skin. While eye safety is very crucial, next one might consider their skin safety as well.  During the partial phases of the eclipse, the sun will be very bright, even if it seems hazy or cloudy. If you are planning to spend a good amount of time in direct sunlight, you should spend a good amount of time planning your skin safety as well. Wear your sunscreen, wear a hat, and wear protective clothing too. For those who aren’t planning to be outside, the excitement of the day may change your plans! Pack extra sunscreen and a hat for the day. Depending on how things go, you may end up spending more time outside than you planned or can control. Always better to be safe than sorry, even better, you may be able to offer your extra sunscreen or a hat to someone else who needs it too!

Lastly, do you know when and where you are watching? Vermont is expecting a major influx of travelers, so much so the media is deeming this the largest travel event in the US ever! Planning your view now matters. If you can reduce travel and not add to congestion on the roads, consider it. Yes, this is your town, however, do you want to be stuck in endless traffic if you don’t have to be? Sure, there may not be a large influx, but if the data is correct, you might serve yourself better to plan to stay put for the best viewing experience. If not, can you get to your spot early and stay later, letting those who are coming in and out of town the kindness to travel more freely?

What’s most amazing about this natural event, is it’s completely out of our control. We’ve all heard the saying, “If the stars align,” and while this time it’s more “if the moon and sun align”… you get the idea! How often in our lifetime does the world pause and look up? How often will people travel from all over the globe to come to places like the NEK to do it? We are so lucky to be on this direct path, let’s embrace this celestial celebration most healthfully and safely as we can. We have a unique opportunity to welcome people to our little slice of the world, and we all get to enjoy the phase craze together!


Mary Hoadley

Director of The Wellness Center