Chico >> Hundreds of students from Chico State University covered the lawn at Glenn Hall on Monday, observing the solar eclipse through glasses and shadows cast by their fingers, solar telescopes, cameras at pinhole and tree leaves.
“Oh my god, this is so cool!” and “Wow! The students regularly exclaimed on their first day of class as they gazed up at the sky in wonder.
Many thanked their teachers for letting them leave the classroom for 20 minutes, or letting them out earlier – as one student pointed out, they surely didn’t want to miss the event of the century either.
Ethereal music played from Trinity Hall as the Great American Eclipse Viewing Party took place on campus from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., and even most students in a rush to get to their next class stopped by to borrow glasses from another student and looked up.
The Chico State Main Office and Regional and Continuing Education co-hosted the event and invited experts from the Department of Physics and the Physics Student Society to answer questions. The students were asked to draw mini-images of the eclipse on sheets of paper and to learn how to use solar telescopes. Small groups even practiced directional meditation as the moon made its way between the sun and the earth.
No one was a stranger during the eclipse – the students gladly shared glasses – of course with a warning: don’t run away with them!
Jacob McDonald, a senior at Hollister, said the eclipse was not at all what he expected. It was “definitely something to remember”, especially with the first day of school with so many other students. He had a pair of glasses that he shared with the others.
“That’s enough of another world. It’s a bit strange, ”he said. “I’m a little ill-equipped to describe it.”
For Jenny Patterson, a senior at Sutter, Monday was a day when everyone was able to rally around a national phenomenon, instead of worrying about the political divide that has been so pervasive.
“It’s worth it to pause, think, and develop that feeling of childish wonder again,” she said. “It cheers me up in a lot of ways. “
Patterson’s classmate Jamie Stryker, a senior from Chico, said she planned to take a peek at the eclipse during a bathroom break, but her teacher not only left the class go out, but also manufactured pinhole cameras.
“It’s really cool to see a crowd like this, especially on day one,” she said. “We are getting to bond on the eclipse.”
Senior Jessica Messineo said that while the people of Chico weren’t on their way to all, it was still a great experience.
“I’m great at all kinds of space phenomena,” she said. “To be able to be a part of that and to be a part of history is great for me.”
Nicole Stanley, a freshman from Petaluma, said she had “never seen anything like this before”.
Andres Andrade, a senior from Chino Hills, and Alberto Gomez, a senior from Orland, helped each other take photos of the eclipse – one was holding glasses while the other took a photo on his cell phone.
Andrade said it was “pretty awesome” and called it a “once in a lifetime” event.
“It’s a great way to start the year,” Gomez added.
At the height of the eclipse, when Chico experienced 85% solar coverage, the campus was darker, like at sunset, and it got cooler.
According to assistant physics professor Nick Nelson, Chico last experienced this type of coverage during a full solar eclipse on January 1, 1889. The next time the region experiences similar coverage is in 2024, a he said in a press release, but full coverage will be visible in the region during the solar eclipse of August 12, 2045.
Contact reporter Ashiah Scharaga at 896-7768.