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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

Physics Club, ResLife organize Austin’s experience of solar daydream

Christian Meaux
Attendees were all looking up at the sky so as to not miss the solar ring emerge.

Last Monday, the Total Solar Eclipse Watch Party brought several people to Andre Lawn to view the phenomena. From playing soccer together on the lawn to eating pizza and checking the sun’s evolution, excitement was at its peak. 

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, aligning itself perfectly with the sun and blocking it completely from our view.  

“The solar eclipse is one of the rarest events that happens in nature,” Physics Club President Harsh Vibhuti said. “The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun but also 400 times closer than the sun, so that adds up in such a way that the moon aligns perfectly with the sun.”

Attendees hanging out on the lawn, waiting for the total solar eclipse’s peak. (Gabrielle Caumon / Hilltop Views)

This total solar eclipse was visible in North America, traveling over Mexico, the United States and Canada. 

“Ideally, you would think it should happen once every month since the moon completes one revolution around the Earth every month, but it does not work like that,” Vibhuti said. “Because the axis of the plane of revolution of the Earth and sun is different from the axis of the plane of revolution of the moon, they are tilted. So, either the moon is above or below the sun, it’s never exactly on the sun. That’s why this event is rare.”

The Physics Club and ResLife collaborated for the watch party, combining science with various activities. Attendees could make beaded bracelets, observe the sun through a telescope, have a tarot card session, talk to physics teachers or even have their faces painted.

For many participants, this watch party was more than just another event. 

“You get to be there with a bunch of people who are also experiencing what you are experiencing,” senior Christian Meaux said. “I think as humans we are meant to experience things with each other, so it just makes it that much more impactful on your life that you get to go and watch this once-in-a-lifetime event with your friends, or just with your fellow students, and get to bond over this one big event.” 

As the sky progressively darkened and the light-activated lamp posts turned on, the moon completely covered the sun around 1:35 p.m. A majority of attendees cheered and applauded in euphoria while witnessing the solar ring. 

“The best part is when you are observing the total eclipse,” Vibhuti said. “You don’t have to take any precautions, you can just put away your glasses and look at the sun when it is completely covered by the moon. There is a common misconception about becoming blind if you look at the eclipse – but that’s not true.”

When the moon completely covered the sun, leaving the solar ring visible. No need for eclipse glasses at this specific moment of totality. (Gabrielle Caumon / Hilltop Views)

According to Vibhuti, it is when something unusual happens, like seeing darkness during the day, that people start asking scientific questions, wondering how and why things happen.

“I think people are already pre-interested in stuff like solar eclipses or lunar eclipses,” Meaux said. “When we were there, there was someone with a telescope, and a science class with a weather balloon as well. Being surrounded by science and people doing experiments and stuff while we were watching the eclipse, it’s gonna pique a curiosity they might have not had before.” 

Despite the cloudy weather, the watch party brought a lawn full of people together. According to NASA, the next total solar eclipse visible in the United States will happen in 20 years, on August 3, 2044

“It gave me some chills,” senior Emmanuel Epau said. “There is always something that comes with the space events, when you know this might be your last time seeing this. I’ve met friends, who are adults, who told me that it might be their last total solar eclipse to see. So that makes you feel so special to be able to witness this. Not everyone gets that moment.”

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About the Contributor
Gabrielle Caumon
Gabrielle Caumon, Staff Writer
Gabrielle Caumon is a junior from Paris, France, who is pursuing a major in the BFA Acting program and a minor in Journalism. This is her second semester writing for Hilltop Views and her first as a Staff Writer. She loves writing for the Life & Arts section, and is excited to branch out and try out other genres.

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  • C

    Castex DeniseApr 16, 2024 at 1:43 am

    Interesting experience. This natural phenomenon is spectacular.
    Bises de Toulouse, capital of aerobics and rugby. !LOL

  • B

    Brian MoloneyApr 15, 2024 at 1:03 pm

    Wish I could have seen it.
    Merci for the amazing coverage and photos.