Total(ity) Darkness: Furman Experiences Solar Eclipse

By: Lane Fahey, Asst. News Editor

     On Monday, Aug. 21, the United States witnessed a solar eclipse for the first time in 38 years. Expanding from Oregon to South Carolina, the path of totality, nicknamed the Great American Eclipse, fell directly over Furman’s campus.

     Events were open to the public all throughout the day as visitors waited for the highly anticipated moment at 2:38 p.m., when the total eclipse occurred. Those who came to campus to watch the event spent the morning staying hydrated, trying on their viewing glasses, and meeting various student association tents lined up in front of the Paladin Stadium.

     As guests filed into the stadium in the hours prior to the eclipse, Associate Provost for Integrative Science John Wheeler and Furman President Elizabeth Davis welcomed a range of ages to Furman.

     Department Chair and Professor of Physics Dr. David Moffett also lectured about the solar eclipse in front of the “largest class [he’s] ever taught.”

     As guests roamed around campus to find the ideal viewing spot, Moffett explained: “The moon’s partial shadow [will] begin covering us at about 1:09 p.m., and for the next half hour, the moon will continue to cover more and more of the sun….”

     With Moffett directing when to take off the viewing glasses, Furman experienced two minutes of darkness as the moon, sun and Earth aligned perfectly.

     “Take off your glasses now!” Moffett exclaimed.

     The stadium roared with applause as a sunset settled in the sky, while the applause continued until the sun came back into view.

     More than 14,000 people came to visit Furman’s campus for a once in a lifetime opportunity. While many were residents of South Carolina and Greenville, Furman also hosted people from across the country, including David Deitz, from New Jersey.

     “We wanted to be in totality and did some searching about Greenville,” Deitz said. “A friend from New Jersey is an amateur astronomer and he said he was coming down here to give a talk at the Hughes Main Library in Greenville, so we were gonna do that but that sold out. Then we started looking around and we found out about you guys.”

     “Totality was really cool, it was pretty weird seeing day turn into night in seconds,” Ty Weathers ‘20 added.

     According to NASA, the next solar eclipse in the United States will be in April of 2024, where the path of totality will stretch from Texas to Maine. Greenville will experience a total solar eclipse again in 2078.

Solar Eclipse
Anticipating the eclipse, the crowd packed into the Paladin Stadium. Photo courtesy of Sammy Clough.

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