Students safely watch rare solar eclipse event on campus

Kellie Vedros, Reporter

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On Monday, Aug. 21, students at the University of New Orleans gathered outside the Earl K. Long Library for a rare sight. This was the first time in 38 years that a solar eclipse passed across the continental United States.

To celebrate this historic event, the Physics department had special telescopes set up for safely viewing the moon blocking out the sun.

“We had three telescopes brought out, each with a special sun filter called a Mylar Filter,” said Noah Haines, president of the Physics club.

Along with the telescopes, participants were given special eclipse glasses. The lenses of these glasses were made of the same material as the telescope filters and are specially made to block out 99.9 percent of sunlight and ultraviolet light.

“We’re glad people are using the proper safety precautions,” Haines said.  Without the safety of these filters, the absolute brightness of the sun could burn a hole in one’s retina and cause blindness.

Along with being able to view the eclipse safely, Dr. Charles Seab, chair of the Physics department, had a presentation to explain why this event was so special to witness.

“In the moon’s orbit around the Earth, it passes between the sun and the Earth once a month,” said Seab. “Most of the time the shadow passes above or below the earth because of the huge distances involved. It’s a quarter of a million miles to the moon. So it’s remarkable that the alignment happens at all.”

The presentation was completed by a small demonstration. Seab used an 18-inch globe and a small moon to scale, standing 45 feet away from the globe. On this small scale, the sun would be 3.5 miles away from the globe.

The last solar eclipse to pass over the nation was in 1919, while 1979 was the last one to pass over the continental United States. Tennessee received a total eclipse while New Orleans only received a partial eclipse at 80 percent the diameter. The next solar eclipse to pass over the United States will pass over Texas on Apr. 8, 2024.


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Students safely watch rare solar eclipse event on campus