On Monday, the Rockhurst community gathered at Vincent P. Dasta Memorial Stadium to view the total solar eclipse. While Rockhurst is located a few miles south of totality, students and faculty were able to observe an incredible 99% partial eclipse. The area has not seen a total eclipse in close to 100 years, so these events are once in a lifetime.
The Moon orbits the earth once every 27.5 days, which is what causes the phases of the moon. Sometimes the moon is visible during the night, sometimes you can see it during the day. It all depends upon where the Moon is relative to Earth and the Sun. If the Moon is lined up during the “new moon” phase, it can block light away from the sun for a few moments along a particular region of Earth. This is a solar eclipse.
The Rockhurst Astronomy Club began planning for this event over two years ago. “We knew it was coming so we bought all the eclipse glasses for the school,” Tucker O’Brien, president of the astronomy club, said. “They were very cheap and we wanted to plan an event for the entire school.”
“The eclipse is special because it is very unlikely when the moon crosses over the Sun. Granted, eclipses happen all over the world in random places every couple of years, but it is so big right now because it hardly happens over the United States,” O’Brien said.
Students were given solar glasses as they entered the stadium to observe the peak of the eclipse. The peak occurred at 1:09 p.m., the darkest moment of the eclipse. What students saw during the eclipse is something they will never forget.
“I thought the eclipse was spectacular,” James Atwater, senior, said. “I deeply appreciated what I was witnessing because of how rare it was. I only wish we would had been in the path of totality.”
“I was thinking about the different phases that were occurring and if I would be able to see shadow snakes or the corona,” Joe Hathaway, senior member of the astronomy club, said. “I had done previous research on solar eclipses and was very excited to see one in person. It was a once in a lifetime event and completely exceeded my expectations.”
“My reaction to seeing the eclipse was pure amazement. It was one of the coolest things I have seen in awhile. Seeing it made my love for astronomy grow even more,” O’Brien said. “My favorite part of the event was being able to see the corona for a short time. It was the only time to see it and it was well worth seeing.”
“I think it was a fascinating experience for us as a community, but also from a science perspective for us to be able to experience it here at Rockhurst,” Mr. Winkeler, chair of the science department, said. “Even if we weren’t in the path of totality, it was something that people who aren’t involved in science would not soon forget but also those involved in science had the opportunity to experience it through the eyes of science. So I think it was a tremendous experience, and what a great opportunity for us to be able to go through and see one of the greatest phenomenons that we could possibly experience.”