Entranced by the Eclipse

Author: O'Neil, Alison


Students, faculty and community members came together on Aug. 21, one day before the start of classes, to view the Great American Eclipse on the lawn in front of Jordan Hall. With upturned faces and open mouths, adults and children alike watched in amazement as the moon slid slowly between the Earth and the sun. At approximately 2:22 p.m., the time at which the moon blocked 89% of the sun, the crowd stood up and cheered.

The university certainly did its part to foster public interest in this rare astronomical event. College of Science faculty manned telescopes on the Jordan Hall lawn, passed out flyers detailing solar eclipse safety and shepherded the eager crowds. Professors donned “Ask Me About the Eclipse” buttons and stood ready to answer the public’s questions.

Eclipse enthusiasts lined up as early as 11 a.m. to receive special glasses, provided by the Department of Physics, that allowed viewers to gaze at the sun without sustaining eye damage. According to physics professor Vinicius Placco, the glasses work by filtering out the sun’s UV light. Through the extremely dark glasses, the sun appears a benign orange ball — clearly visible, even through clouds, but not painfully bright. The glasses block everything else, except very close, very luminous lights, from view.

The eclipse awed viewers across the country, and Notre Dame students were no exception. “Watching the eclipse was truly incredible,” said sophomore Erin Albertini. “It was totally unlike anything I had ever seen before.”