Troy students and faculty covered the Bibb Graves quad on Monday afternoon, eager to view the solar eclipse phenomenon.
An email was sent out on Wednesday, Aug. 16, inviting students to join the Physics Club in watching the eclipse. Crowds gathered around noon to snag a pair of the limited 100 eclipse glasses provided by the club.
Due to the large number of students, glasses were divided among groups of about 10 in order to share so that each student could take a turn looking.
According to CNBC, “A total eclipse, as the name suggests, more completely blocks our view of the sun, leaving only a tiny reddish band of light visible around the edges, called the limb, and whitish wisps radiating outward, called the corona.”
The term “totality” refers to the moon’s 100 percent coverage of the sun, which was not reached in Troy. Though the sky was cloudy and overcast, viewers experienced roughly an 83 percent coverage of the sun by the moon.
Several professors chose to cancel scheduled class time or allow students to leave early to participate in the observation.
Robbyn Taylor, a professor of journalism, replaced her Writing for Mass Media classes with an on-the-scene assignment to capture the effects of the eclipse on the student body as well as her students’ personal experiences while viewing.
“As educators, I believe it’s our job to teach students information found in textbooks that will help them with their careers, but it’s also our job to share experiences that encourage both thinking and feeling,” Taylor said.
Taylor chose to create an educational opportunity for future journalists to report on something newsworthy and expand her teaching beyond the classroom.
“While my classes that normally meet during the eclipse aren’t going to be physically in the classroom, they have video journalism projects to take part in as they experience the phenomenon of a solar eclipse,” she said.
For Taylor, this viewing brought back childhood memories she shared with her mother during the partial eclipse and created new memories she has now shared with her 3-year-old son, Brooks.
A partial or annular eclipse, compared to a total solar eclipse, according to CNBC, is when the moon passes over the sun but is too far from Earth for the coverage to cover it, leaving a thin gold ring around the moon’s perimeter.
“I remember (my mother) filling up a kiddie pool with water and placing black construction paper in the bottom so we could watch the action as it was reflected in the pool,” Taylor said. “It’s a lifelong memory.
“I think at Troy, we aren’t just supplying students with book knowledge; we are giving them chances to be whole, good people who’ll be able to share their knowledge, ethics and curiosity with the world.”
“I hope that he (Brooks), and all our students at Troy, will remember the feeling of mystery and wonder as the sky changes above us,” Taylor said.
There were also several members of Alpha Delta Pi sorority who got together for an informal viewing which began with two girls and a pair of glasses.
Hannah Tatum, a senior global business major from Birmingham, said it grew into a group hangout and opportunity to get to know each other.
“I think it was great that girls knew they could come and be welcomed,” Tatum said. “It was fun talking with sisters I hadn’t talked much with previously.”
Govind Menon, chair of the department of chemistry and physics, said his expectations were exceeded by the student and faculty appearance at the event, but he admitted that he was not surprised by students’ interest.
Menon suggested that those looking to get more information should consider taking Principles of Astronomy (SCI 2240/L240).
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the last time a solar eclipse was this visible in the area was in 1979, and there will not be one as visible as this to us again for about another 50 years.