Rebekah Hawkins, Associate Editor
In the beginning, the earth was dark.
Then there was a sun and a moon, and last Monday the moon decided to come between the sun and the earth for three hours. Even though Jacksonville wasn’t in the path of totality, people still took to the streets from wherever they were to see the event that won’t take place again until 2024.
According to JSU Associate Professor of Physics Laura Weinkauf, it’s been a while since there was a total solar eclipse like the one on the 21st.
“The last one visible from the contiguous U.S was on Feb. 26, 1979,” She said. “Times vary for eclipses, this one was around three hours. Totality was around two and a half minutes, although in 2024 totality is predicted to last more than five minutes. It depends on the details of where in their orbits the moon and earth are.”
Jacksonville State University set up a viewing party on the TMB lawn for anyone who wanted to come and view the eclipse. People in lawn chairs set up shop to wait, families brought their small children to the bounce houses set up, it was a community that came together for a once-in-a-lifetime moment.
Sophomore Noah Davis went to the viewing party and said, “It was good to see a public interest in science. We need more of that.”
Sophomore Eric Cline also went with a group of his friends to see the eclipse.
“It was a really cool experience to see the lighting around everyone change,” He said. “It was almost like wearing sunglasses without actually having any.”
Viewing the eclipse without protective glasses was not recommended though. Weinkauf says that the need for protective lenses comes from the sun’s damaging rays.
“Even with part of the sun’s disk blocked, the amount of light coming through can damage the cells on the retina of the eye,” She said. “Permanent vision loss can occur, and since the sun doesn’t look as bright when it’s partially covered, there’s more danger of looking too long at the sun during an eclipse.”
Even for someone who works as an astronomer by trade Weinkauf says that she really just wanted to enjoy the eclipse. She took to Tennessee with some friends and colleagues for viewing.
“It was amazing,” She said. “Some astronomers did plan to take data from the eclipse, but I just went to enjoy it.”