A few weeks ago, a pall was cast over VJC — in more ways than one.

In addition to the J2 Common Tests, anyone looking to “see the light” had another obstacle to contend with — a solar eclipse.

There are three types of eclipse. Firstly, here is a total eclipse, meaning that at some point the sun is totally blocked. Secondly, there is a partial solar eclipse (the moon never completely blocks the sun). Finally, we have an annular eclipse, where the distance is such that the sun is right behind the moon, but bigger – giving the appearance of a “ring of fire”.

The eclipse visible from South East Asian skies was a partial eclipse, visible from 7.20am to 9.20am. Totality (maximum coverage) occurred at 8.20am, with a whopping 87% coverage of the sun’s surface by the moon; the next time we will get anywhere close is 12 years in the future – and even then with only 60% coverage. (Looking backwards, the last time a solar eclipse of a similar magnitude occurred was in 1998.)

An announcement in the morning of 9th March declared that there was no morning assembly that day, as it would coincide with the timing of the eclipse — great news for the students. In conjunction, an eclipse-viewing event was organised by Mr Jayesh of the Science Faculty. An email was sent en masse to the entire student and staff body a few days prior to the event, but most Physics students would no doubt have heard of it through the constant promotion by the teachers before each Physics lecture!

Among the students who turned up, most of them were J1s, as the J2s were busy with their Common Tests. Some of the staff members had also come to view the eclipse, including the Principal, Vice-Principal, as well as mostly English department teachers who had “nothing better to do”! According to Mr Jayesh, who was on site in charge of setting up and supervising usage of equipments, the turnout was larger than he expected.

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Students streamed in and out of the school field. It wasn’t long before we discovered that the clearest view of the sun — unblocked by Neptune Court or the trees — was at the far end of the spectator stands, near the ECP highway. Naturally, that was where the equipment was set up. Solar viewers, H-alpha telescopes and a Sun-Spotter borrowed from the Astronomy Club were provided for public usage, and Victorians lined up in neat rows to use them.

The moon was positioned mostly to the right of the sun — this was why the eclipse was partial and not total. Initially coming from the top, the moon obscured the sun until just a sliver of it was left — the sun now resembled a crescent. Continuing downwards, the moon (still offset to the right of the sun) eventually uncovered the sun bit by bit, and we were on our way to our lectures and tutorials.

The students were mostly doing commemorative activities (many had come with their classes), and generally having a good time. There weren’t enough solar filters so they were shared amongst everyone present, but Victorians behaved with decorum and graciousness, and no fights were observed. Many students, however, gave the feedback that it could have been better if there were more solar viewers, but overall it went quite well.

The J1s refused to let up on the jokes either. “This eclipses everything right now,” a J1 girl said, before sheepishly adding “hopefully including Maths lecture.” In another corner of the field, a boy was playing Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” before being chided by his Student Council friend that that was the “wrong kind of eclipse”. Worse still, we actually saw a student holding up an Eclipse™ mint to the sun before Snapchatting a picture.

But the pun of the day had to go to a group of J1 boys, who deadpanned “I think we’ve found the best kind of sunblock.”

Ryan Ch’ng, 16S47

Photos: Ren Jiaqi, 16A12

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