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Marking time and sharing a memory with a celestial phenomenon

Norah and Sienna Center, April 8, 2024.
Patrick Center
WGVU Public Media
Norah and Sienna Center, April 8, 2024.

Six years ago, I spent the afternoon with my wife and our two young daughters experiencing their first solar eclipse. We reunited Monday on a clear and warm April afternoon in Grand Rapids Township making new memories.

“Oh, it’s like a crescent moon with the sun. Oh, it’s moving so fast. That’s so cool.”

With protective glasses covering her eyes, Sienna describes the near total solar eclipse. This is her six years ago as an 8-year-old witnessing her first.

“Whoa! “It’s a moon! It’s the moon!”

“It’s cool.”

Her little sister also tried making sense of the astronomical phenomenon.

“Norah, what do you see? A moon. What’s the moon doing? Um…it’s just standing there.”

Patrick Center
Norah and Sienna Center, August 21, 2017.

That was August 21, 2017.

“So, I’ll be 14 when this happens again, and Norah will be 12.”

And Norah’s observation today? “Well, it’s rare what makes it so cool. And it’s just like the sun is going away and the moon is covering and it gets dark in the daytime. Yeah, how dim is it right now? It’s pretty dim.”

At 3:11pm, daylight turns to a brief dusk. From a nearby marsh, frogs begin croaking as the moon eclipses nearly 94% of the sun.

“Is this once in a lifetime? Could be. That’s why you need to enjoy this while you can. Yeah.”

West Michigan’s next total solar eclipse is September 14, 2099.

“We’ll be like 90. Yeah. No. We’ll be like 100.”

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.
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