An ‘Otherwordly’ eclipse

A composition of the full eclipse seen from Lordstown. Photos and composition by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Molly Burke / The Jambar

An estimated 30 million people from Mexico to Canada watched April 8’s total solar eclipse, including the Youngstown State University community.

Hundreds gathered at the parking lot of Foxconn EV System LLC in Lordstown for an event hosted with YSU’s Ward Beecher Planetarium. Patrick Durrell, an astronomy professor and the director of the planetarium, said the crowd was in awe watching the once-in-a-lifetime event.

“It was just the sense of awe from people,” Durrell said. “Just a couple minutes before totality, you could clearly tell it was darker, and then people started to realize it was really happening. When totality hits, it’s such a big difference.”

A man shoots the eclipse with his camera. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Totality occurs when the moon completely covers the sun. Durrell said he’s seen partial eclipses and shown photos of total eclipses in his classes, but none could capture the thrill of seeing it in real life.

“As a scientist, I don’t even know how to express myself. All I could say is it was absolutely awesome,” Durrell said. “It was really something to see. I was dumbfounded.”

Another highlight for Durrell was seeing the sun’s solar prominences during totality.

“What struck me was when the moon covered, you also got to see some of the solar prominences — these are hot regions of gas that are erupting off the surface of the sun. I’ve seen them in pictures. I didn’t know how bright they would be during the eclipse,” Durrell said.

At the Lordstown event, people could view the eclipse through telescopes provided by the astronomy department. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Attendees could receive eclipse glasses and look at the eclipse through filtered telescopes. Durrell said the event was meant to be more accessible for those who didn’t want to drive far.

“We didn’t see as long of a total eclipse, it was just under a minute and a half there … but it was easier for people to get to, and it was a very good event,” Durrell said. “A lot of people seemed to really enjoy themselves. They had their chairs, they were all decked out, some of them took some great pictures.”

People watch the eclipse with thier glasses. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

Student Activities hosted a bus trip to Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, where around 45 students got to speak with scientists and see the eclipse in totality for almost four minutes from NASA’s Total Eclipse Festival 2024.

Faith Marsico, a graduate assistant for programming and reservations of Student Activities said she learned about the different phases of the eclipse from NASA’s broadcast.

“I learned from the NASA officials’ broadcast what the little beads as the eclipse is coming into the totality are — they’re called Baily’s beads,” Marscio said. “I loved being able to listen to the broadcast while watching the eclipse because they told us when we could take our glasses off, when we could put them back on.”

Donald Vanhorn, a senior sports broadcasting telecommunications major, went on the bus trip and said his favorite part was experiencing the eclipse’s effects.

“It wasn’t complete darkness like at midnight, but it was like that darkness after sunset at like three in the afternoon,” Vanhorn said. “It was like 65 degrees in normal time, but once it started to get darker, it cooled down to almost 50 degrees. So, I felt that chill. It was almost like an eerie experience, a good kind of eerie I would say.”

YSU’s chapter of Society of Physics Students hosted a viewing event at Geneva Township Park in Lake Village, Geneva. Amanda Keating, vice president of SPS, said around 30 people came to the beach to see the solar event.

“Everyone was cheering and screaming, and we were freaking out because almost none of us have seen anything like this before,” Keating said.

Keating was worried clouds would block the view, but they moved away just in time. She said the experience was emotional and “magical.”

“I was in near tears about it. It was such a beautiful moment for me,” Keating said. “I had never felt more close to a group of people in my life.”

Several university offices and YSU affiliates, such as the YSU Foundation, closed early for the eclipse. While the Office of the President did not close, YSU President Bill Johnson stated he stepped out to watch.

“We did not close, but I did get to see at least part of it. It was a very surreal experience,” Johnson stated.

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