Students at Richland witnessed a rare solar eclipse in the field outside of Guadalupe Hall Aug. 21.
Coordinator of Facilities Sustainability Sonia Ford and astronomy professor Heather Appleby organized the watch party, which followed the entire eclipse from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Students were given specific glasses and viewing cards to safely view the rare scientific event.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon aligns between the Earth and the sun, creating a dark silhouette from the view of people on Earth. The view from Dallas of this particular eclipse was partial, meaning the moon was not visibly, completely aligned with the sun from this part of the country. It was actually only about 75 percent. In the Richland area observers could see a crescent of the sun.
Solar eclipses are rare because Earth orbits the sun every 365 days. In that process, the moon rotates around the Earth’s orbit of the sun, but only occasionally aligns with the sun and Earth and casts a shadow people can see.
“My first reaction is how small we are and how far [away] the sun is,” said mechanical engineering major Theo Astake.
Many classes were dismissed so students could enjoy this rare phenomenon, the next of which won’t be seen in North America until 2024. English major Tabitha Nursing said, “I had been looking forward to seeing this all week and it was stunning.”