IOWA CITY — While people across the country turned their gaze to the sky for Monday’s solar phenomenon, one family didn’t take the time to look outside — for good reason.
Dawn and Jonathan Gettler welcomed their daughter Claire Elizabeth Gettler to the world at 5:31 p.m. Monday at Mercy Iowa City, a few hours after the total solar eclipse peaked over the Midwest.
But this isn’t the first birth in the family that aligns with lunar motion. Dawn Gettler was born on Feb. 26, 1979 — the last time a total solar eclipse occurred in North America.
“The solar eclipse really had no significance until (Claire) was born,” said Jonathan Gettler. “When Dawn was born, it was just another day, but when (Claire’s birth) aligned on another eclipse, that’s what piqued the interest.”
According to NASA, partial and annular solar eclipses happen about two to four times a year. However, total solar eclipses — which cover an area of about 50 miles wide in totality — typically happen once every hundred years in any given location across Earth.
The next solar eclipse, according to Popular Science Magazine, is expected to happen in 22 months mostly over the Pacific Ocean and into southern Argentina and Chile.
Claire is the South Amana couple’s first child together; they have four other children from previous relationships.
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Dawn Gettler was due to give birth this past Friday, but labor was induced Monday after the baby still had not come.
While Jonathan Gettler said he was hopeful to have a daughter share his birthday — Aug. 17 — both parents were excited for another eclipse birth.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” Dawn Gettler said. “I thought it was a little ironic, because they don’t happen very often. I was born on an eclipse day and now she was born on an eclipse day.”
Having the birth on the eclipse was not planned by the couple, they said. Dawn Gettler said she didn’t even realize her daughter might be born on eclipse day until she was reading the news a couple of weeks ago.
“I told Jonathan, ‘Our baby could share a total eclipse day just like her mom,’ ” she said.
In fact, it wasn’t until she read that article a couple of weeks ago that she realized she shared her birth date with an eclipse.
“I knew it was in 1979, but I didn’t realize it was on Feb. 26,” she said.
As far as Dawn Gettler said she’s aware, her name wasn’t intended to be related to the solar event. The couple, however, opted not to give their daughter a solar- or lunar-related name.
“We had Claire Elizabeth picked out, so we just stuck with that,” Dawn Gettler said.
On April 8, 2024, when Claire is 7 years old, the next total solar eclipse in the United States will occur, cutting a diagonal path from Texas to Maine, NASA experts have said, adding that eclipse, like the one Monday, will be viewed from the same spot near Carbondale, Ill., a town a little more than 100 miles southeast of St. Louis, Mo.
“That’ll be fun to go on a trip to see that one,” Jonathan Gettler said.
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