On Monday, August 21st students at Purdue witnessed a partial solar eclipse. The partial eclipse was visible all over North America, while the total eclipse was visible only along the path of totality. The path extended west to east from Oregon to South Carolina. During a solar eclipse the moon passes between the sun and Earth covering the sun until only the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, can be seen. Many describe this special event as awe-inspiring and even life-changing.

At Purdue, many students and members of the community donned protective glasses and watched as the moon passed in front of the sun. Though brief, the eclipse garnered a great deal of attention on campus. The Purdue Astronomy Club organized a viewing event and provided attendees with protective glasses. These glasses were necessary to view the eclipse safely; staring directly can cause permanent eye damage.

Colin Burke, a junior and Vice President of the Astronomy Club, explained how the event was organized. “We wrote grants to purchase safe solar viewing glasses and special solar filters and tracking equipment for our telescopes”, explained Burke. “We had the pleasure to work with eclipse2017.org to provide ten thousand solar eclipse glasses to Purdue students, Tippecanoe County Schools, the West Lafayette Public Library, and others”.

A massive line of people by Loeb Fountain waited for the solar eclipse glasses. Many more found spots at Memorial Mall to sit back and watch the eclipse. “The public response we received was outstanding, even though it was only a partial eclipse in Indiana”, said Burke. “We received many emails and messages from individuals and community leaders requesting more eclipse glasses. But we simply were not able to keep up with the spike in demand at the last minute”.

The solar eclipse was a special event here at Purdue, made all the better by the Astronomy Club and their efforts to make the experience as safe as possible. “We were thrilled by the positive response from Purdue and the local community”, Burke said. It was an honor to provide safe means to enjoy such a historic event, and to share our passion for astronomy with the public”.

If you missed the eclipse, don’t worry. “Local residents can look forward to 2024, when the path of totality will cross over Indianapolis”, explained Burke.

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