Section: News

Ohio experiences first total solar eclipse in over 200 years

Ohio experiences first total solar eclipse in over 200 years

Members of the women’s lacrosse team watch the eclipse. | COURTESY OF SIMONE MARTEL

South Campus was plunged into momentary dusk this Monday during a total solar eclipse. At approximately 3:13 p.m., students gathered near the Franklin Miller Observatory and at the Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC) to experience approximately 10 seconds of totality, where the moon completely blocked out the sun.

To celebrate the first total solar eclipse visible in Ohio since 1806, the bookstore offered free solar eclipse glasses starting on April 4, and the Bicentennial Committee provided complimentary solar eclipse glasses during lunch at Peirce Dining Hall on Thursday, Friday and Monday using funding from a third round of grants.

Mere days before, eclipse totality was estimated to last roughly 15 seconds at the BFEC, 20 seconds on Bexley Lawn and 30 seconds at the observatory. However, an early Monday email from Professor of Physics Paula Turner informed the community that the estimated width of the eclipse path was narrower than expected, and that totality would only reach the observatory and the northwestern portions of the BFEC.

Despite this, the BFEC hosted a solar eclipse viewing from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., streaming live footage of the astronomical event from across the U.S. and offering both pre- and post-eclipse yoga sessions, including sun salutations. They also provided traditional yard games, eclipse data collecting and crafts, as well as baked goods from the Happy Owl Mobile Bakery. Students gathered on Middle Path at 2:30 p.m. for a Solar Eclipse viewing and giveaway sponsored by Social Board.

Current students weren’t the only ones enjoying the eclipse — many of the alumni visiting for the Kenyon Physics Alumni Conference extended their stay to watch the eclipse, as an “astronomical bonus” to the weekend’s events. 

However, while alumni flocked to the Hill for the eclipse, many students ventured off campus to get deeper into the path of totality. Sydney Whitworth ’24, Tommy Hillmer ’25 and Lily Leone ’26 left campus around 11:30 a.m. to watch the eclipse from Ontario, Ohio, with a group of friends. 

“We really wanted to get a head start because we knew this was going to be a really important occasion and we didn’t want to miss a moment of it,” Whitworth said in an interview with the Collegian. “It really was a great experience to not only be there for the moment of the eclipse, but also just watching the color slowly leak out of the world in preparation.”

Leading up to totality, the sky dimmed as temperatures dropped nearly nine degrees. Once the moon fully blocked the sun, eclipse-goers were safe to take off their eclipse glasses and look directly at the event, where the corona of the sun was visible past the edge of the moon. Beyond the sun and moon, a 360-degree sunset enveloped the sky, dimming the world just enough that planets and stars were visible — notably, Venus to the southeast and Jupiter to the northwest. 

“The eclipse was mesmerizing, ethereal,” Hillmer said in an interview with the Collegian. “[It] really got me spiritually thinking… [it] made me realize that we’re part of something bigger and that we’re all on one planet.” 

Though totality lasted mere seconds on the Hill, the eclipse lasted for approximately two and a half hours from partial to full totality and back. For the rest of the contiguous U.S., there won’t be another total solar eclipse until 2044, while Ohio won’t experience another solar eclipse like this until 2099. 

“I was kind of underwhelmed by the last eclipse that people were talking about,” Leone said, in reference to her experience watching a partial solar eclipse in 2017. “I wasn’t expecting to fully go dark and see everything… it was amazing, and so beautiful and so powerful.”

News Editor Rachel Botkin ’24 contributed to reporting.

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