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Campus solar eclipse viewing party

August 23, 2017

On Monday, Nicholls State University hosted a speech forum and viewing party to allow students to discuss and view the solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes in between the sun and the Earth, casting a shadow on the Earth. This can only occur during daytime, when the moon is in its new moon phase. “Most solar eclipses occur in unpopulated areas: the ocean, the Artic and the Antarctic,” Kaisa Young, professor of physical sciences and astronomer, said. “That is why the eclipses seem so rare.”

Prior to the eclipse, Young hosted a Solar Eclipse Talk in Peltier Auditorium. During the talk, she answered frequently asked questions about the eclipse and discussed ways to view it safely.

The viewing party began at noon in the field behind the Recreation Center. Students, faculty and members of the community gathered to catch a glimpse of this historic event. Nicholls faculty provided viewers with special glasses used for viewing an eclipse. The glasses are 10,000 times darker than regular sunglasses.

“Even though it was extremely hot outside today, it was truly amazing to see the eclipse occur,” Sarah Favret, a sophomore art major from Houma, said. “One of my favorite parts was being able to look through the pinhole camera. Which is a box that you put over your head and you can look through the hole and see the sun and moon. When looking through the camera it felt as if it was nighttime.”

The pinhole camera or projector was one of the other forms of viewing the eclipse that was offered in addition to the telescopes and binoculars provided. Looking directly into the eclipse could cause serious damage to the eyes due to the corona, the light around the sun, being about one million degrees.

“I found out about the eclipse from Facebook and my grandmother,” Alexis Penton, a senior art major from Amite, said. “She texted me telling me to not look directly into the sun and that she was going to be watching the eclipse from her porch because she didn’t have glasses.”

In Thibodaux, students, faculty and community members could only witness a partial eclipse because a total eclipse only occurs in specific areas. “The eclipse total will occur between 12-3:00 pm,” Young said. “The peak point, where majority of the sun will be covered by the moon will occur at 1:28 pm. The total eclipse is only expected to last about two minutes and forty seconds today.”

The solar eclipse that occurred, was the first total eclipse to occur in the US since 1979. Another solar eclipse is expected to occur in April of 2024. “It is really exciting to be here and be able to watch this occur,” Penton said. “It’s not a once in a lifetime thing, but it definitely is not something you get to experience every day. I am looking forward to the next one.”

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