The path of totality: The College’s eclipse experience

On Monday, Aug. 21, our campus saw the world go dark. Those that got to experience the total solar eclipse from River’s Green got a real treat. With activities, photo booths, thousands of certified viewing glasses and NASA broadcasting live from the center of the fun, the eclipse lived up to the hype.

One of the many activities at the event – sand art. (All photos courtesy of Hannah Broder).

With over a million people visiting Charleston, some were unsure about the event. Many students felt it could be too crowded but others brimmed with excitement. With the overload of media coverage about the eclipse, word got travelled fast.“I didn’t think initially [the eclipse would get as much attention], I thought it was going to be kind of difficult to get people engaged, but NASA has done a pretty amazing job getting the word out,” said Carrie Black, a scientist and researcher for the National Science Foundation.

Why Charleston?

Not only was Charleston in the path of totality, “the historic district has low buildings which provides key visibility – that gives us access to the Sun,” said Black. This was an important factor in the choice for NASA to come to Charleston. Overall, the aim of the event was to engage students and “To get [students] out and understand the Sun and enjoy science,” said Black. 

Students watching prior to totality. 

A campus community

Many students agreed that this was the most school spirit they had seen on campus in a long time. Everyone was chanting “C-of-C!” as President Glen McConnell tossed popsicles to an overheated and spirited crowd. With everyone involved, including faculty, the campus felt like a family for the start of the new semester. After the event concluded, the amazement plastered across students’ and faculty’s faces expressed a new kind of wonderment about science. Being able to say that you were there for the 2017 Great American Eclipse will be quite the story to tell all of our kids in the future. Thanks to NASA, this will be a crowning jewel in our musings of “the good old days.”

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