Millikin Welcomes Solar Eclipse

President White spreading peace at the 2017 Solar Eclipse: an event that packed the quad on the first day of classes.

On Monday, August 21 Millikin University began the year with a few exciting events. Not only did the long awaited University Commons open, but students and staff also had the wonderful opportunity to witness an almost full eclipse. “It’s a great day, it’s a lot of fun that the eclipse is happening on the same day and at the same time that we are opening the University Commons,” President of Millikin University, Patrick White said. “I hope that this gets a lot of people more interested in science…it’s marvelous that people are excited about it!”

At around 12:30, students began to gather on the quad in excitement as staff began to hand out special glasses and mirror-like discs that would let students and faculty view the event safely. Some students, if they were lucky, were even able to convince their professors to take time out of class to witness the coverage. Due to a shipment error, Millikin was unable to provide enough glasses for the plethora of viewers and asked students to keep them on the quad and share them with those who were unable to obtain a pair. Despite that minor setback, almost everyone on the quad was given the opportunity to see the eclipse in all it’s glory. “I am so excited,” freshman Saamia Salik said about the event. “I know this is a once in a lifetime experience and I think it’s going to be really nice to share it with everybody else.”

By 1:15, the front of the quad was crowded with students and faculty alike. People were passing glasses around, gasping in wonder at what they could see, and patiently waiting for the almost total coverage that would happen at 1:19. Pictures were being taken of the excitement, whether they were through the lens of the safety glasses or not, and almost every face was pointed towards the sky.

When 1:19 arrived and coverage was achieved, the excitement of the crowd increased drastically. Cries of “I can’t see it, it’s gone,” could be heard from every direction. Students flocked to the stairs in order to get that tiny bit closer to the sun. The wonder and excitement lasted until the sun could be seen and the moon continued its path. After most students had seen the eclipse at least twice, most of them began to disperse. Many ended up in the new University Commons, due to the large amount of canceled classes.

This eclipse itself was an event in which the moon blocked the sun in its path around the Earth. According to NASA, this path stretched from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Everyone in North America and parts of South America, Africa, and Europe were able to see at least a partial eclipse. The path of totality passed through only 14 states in the U.S.

While Millikin University was unable to experience total coverage, a select group of students and faculty made their way to Wyoming to lead nightly viewings of the eclipse for the public. This was the first total eclipse since 1979, and the first one to go from coast to coast since 1918. If you missed the eclipse, don’t worry, the according to The Washington Post, the next eclipse will be seen on April 8, 2024.