Solar Eclipse Unites Community Spirit, Learning on Campus Green

Michelle Eggink, Assistant Director of Content Marketing & Communications
Students gathering for solar eclipse on the Marist Green. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College

April 16, 2024 - Students witnessed a cosmic campus event last week: the North American solar eclipse of 2024. Crowds of students, faculty, and staff gathered on the campus green to experience the rare phenomenon, sharing this memorable experience as a community.

As the moon eclipsed the sun, the skylight faded slowly, the temperature dropped noticeably, and the Marist lamp posts turned on earlier than usual. Students lounged on blankets, played music through portable speakers, and cheered together at the peak moon coverage of the sun.

“I think it's really beautiful to see everybody out on the Marist Green, all coming together for one big cosmic event,” said Joe Daniele '24. “It just shows the community and the positivity that Marist has.”

“My favorite part of the solar eclipse was that it brought everyone on campus together to watch,” said Genevieve Petrara '27. ”It was really cool to see!”



“The campus is already really pretty as it is and seeing the darkness come over it was really cool and fun to be around,” said Teagan DiPippo '27.

“I was most excited about watching the eclipse with my friends,” said Kat Bilbija '24. “I feel like this is the first time this semester that the green has been filled with Marist students and it's nice to see everyone come together and enjoy something meaningful.”

A solar eclipse happens when the Moon moves between the Sun and the Earth, blocking sunlight. Whether it's partial or total depends on where you are and the Moon's position. In Poughkeepsie, our campus was outside the path of totality but experienced a 93.9% magnitude eclipse.

Image of solar eclipse.

While there was a partial solar eclipse on campus, the path of totality, where the moon fully covered sunlight was just three hours north of campus. Photo by Joseph Echeverria.

The Office of the Provost, the School of Science, and Physics Professor Dr. Nelson Sivers teamed up to orchestrate campus activities in anticipation of the historic event. This included distributing over 500 solar eclipse glasses for safe viewing and offering sessions on crafting camera obscuras and solar eclipse education. Many students arrived at the Campus Green prepared with glasses that they received for free from on-campus pick-up locations, bought in advance, or learned how to make on their own.

Not only was this cosmic occurrence an incredible communal viewing experience but also an exciting teaching moment.

Image of Science students making camera obsuras in Donnelly Hall.

Science students making camera obscuras in Donnelly Hall. Photo by Michelle Eggink/Marist College.

“Dr. Sivers hosted times for us to make camera obscuras in advance so I was so excited to look through them to see the eclipse in person,” said Jenna Jedlicka '25.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Haillie D’Andrea '25. “During Dr. Sivers solar eclipse talk I learned that the next solar eclipse in this area won’t be until 2079, so I am glad I was able to experience it.”

Dr. Sivers talk covered the science of solar eclipses and offered additional info about fun historical and cultural factoids. From ancient eclipse rituals and current conspiracy theories to describing the difference between astronomy and astrology, the well-rounded talk engaged all attendees.

“We have a very supportive community for learning here and it’s great to see how interested and curious everyone on campus is for this rare event,” said Dr. Sivers. “We should embrace the things nature provides us when we get the opportunity.”

The science students and faculty weren’t the only ones with starry eyes, as all disciplines came out for the experiential learning opportunity.

“A bunch of us are in a class called audiation in the music program,” Kailey Levinson '25. “It was really cool because we were able to come outside and use what we learned in class about music and actually listen to music while the eclipse was happening.”

Dr. Moira Fitzgibbons, Professor of English had students from her History of the English Language course pass out bookmarks they created titled, “Solar Eclipses Throughout English Literature.”

Image of students giving out solar eclipse bookmarks.

Students from the History of the English Language class giving out solar eclipse bookmarks. Photo by Nelson Echeverria/Marist College.

Dr. Fitzgibbons shared, “My class recognized the eclipse gathering and quickly created bookmarks featuring cultural literary references to eclipses and facts about Geoffrey Chaucer, the first to mention 'eclipse' in the English language. It aligned well with their projects on communicating arcane linguistic knowledge to the public and the bookmarks went fast!“

“Many professors canceled classes or moved them outdoors, prioritizing the chance for students to witness the eclipse firsthand,” said Liam Gibbs '24. “It's nice to see professors embracing this once-in-a-lifetime event and acknowledging students' desire to be part of it.”


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