Temple community gathers for solar eclipse

The Department of Physics held a solar eclipse viewing on Beury Beach with hundreds of students in attendance anticipating peak coverage of the sun.

Held at Beury Beach, Temple's Department of Physics hosted a solar eclipse watch party. | FERNANDO GAXIOLA / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Philadelphia witnessed a rare event on Monday: a partial solar eclipse reaching more than 90 percent totality. This “deep partial” eclipse darkened the sky and revealed brighter stars. 

The moon began crossing the sun at 2:08 p.m. and reached its peak coverage of 90.1 percent at 3:23, lasting until 4:35. While Philadelphia didn’t witness totality, the event was still significant, marking the greatest solar coverage since 1984. The next similar event won’t occur until 2078.

A partial solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, but their alignment isn’t exact. As a result, only a portion of the sun is obscured, creating a crescent shape.

By 2 o’clock, the strip of grass in front of Beury Hall, known as Beury Beach, was packed with students. Istvan Tamas, a junior biochemistry major, had never seen so many people on Beury. 

“There are far too many people, this feels more packed than any music festival,” Tamas said. “I’m glad that there are a lot of people out and it feels like a very traditional college experience.”

A long line weaved through the massive crowd for eclipse glasses, needed to safely view the phenomenon, but many students weren’t able to get them in time. Students living in residence halls were supposed to receive complementary glasses, but residence assistant Alex Hughes didn’t receive them in time for his hall, leaving students disappointed and scrambling to find their own. 

“I’m an RA at a residence hall but they never delivered them to my residence hall, so all the freshmen in my dorm had been emailing me that they didn’t get them so I’ve been like damage controlling that,” said Hughes, a senior music technology major. 

Julia Timmoneri fought through the pushing and shoving to get her hands on a pair of eclipse glasses that Temple Student Activities were passing out. Timmoneri didn’t have glasses to view the 2017 eclipse, making for an unpleasant viewing experience, so she made it a priority to get her hands on them for this eclipse. 

“I did get shoved but then I learned that these are a hot commodity so it makes sense that I did get shoved,” said Timmoneri, a senior public health major. 

Many students viewing today’s eclipse also experienced the one in 2017. Like Timmoneri, Ishika Kohli didn’t have the proper eyewear to safely view in 2017, so she made sure to purchase her own pair ahead of time. 

“I don’t remember [the 2017 eclipse] and that’s why I am excited to see this one and I prepared for it because I do not remember what I was doing in 2017,” said Kohli, a junior neuroscience major. 

As students waited for peak coverage, they chatted and listened to music from speakers in groups, hung hammocks from the trees on Beaury and ate ice cream from the nearby Mister Softee’s truck. 

Students also had the opportunity to learn about the rare sighting from Temple’s Physics Department, who set up an information booth and two large telescopes. They also live streamed the eclipse on YouTube. 

Physics professor Matthew Newby and his team spent two hours setting up the telescopes and informational booth on Beury.

“This telescope looks at exactly one wavelength of light in the red part of the spectrum and it shows off these tiny details in the sun like sunspots, prominences, little flares on the edges,” Newby said. “And then the other one is just a white light telescope that we fitted with a mirror that blocks almost all of the light coming in, and then that makes it safe enough for us to view and we have just a standard DSLR camera on the end.”

As the moon began to move across the sun, it started getting darker on Beury Beach, and students clapped and cheered even as the sun was partly covered. Although there was some cloud coverage, the natural blue sky appeared darker as the moon covered the sun. 

Some students made their own cereal box viewers, which involves cutting two openings into the box then using aluminum foil to create a reflection, allowing students to safely view the eclipse through a DIY viewer. 

Once the Bell Tower struck three times for 3 p.m., students erupted into shouts and applause, as the time of peak coverage inched closer. As the optimal viewing time frame rolled around at 3:23, so did large clouds obstructing the eclipse and putting a damper on some students’ excitement for the event. 

“It was pretty underwhelming, there was all this excitement built up around this happening and at the most quintessential part of the eclipse, the clouds had covered it,” Tamas said. 

After the prime viewing time passed, students began packing up their belongings and some retreated back into the campus buildings they snuck out of to peek at the eclipse amid work, classes or study time.

“I got to see a lot of eclipsing, I got my glasses from the campus 7/11 on Liacouras Walk, and I got out of lab to watch this natural phenomenon occur in real time,” Tamas said.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.