Southwestern Welcomes New School Year by Eating Sun

Southwestern Welcomes New School Year by Eating Sun

Visitors were able to see the quarter-moon shape of the sun through the shadow box set up outside Scales Hall.

The first day of the 2017-18 school year at Southwestern Adventist University might have looked to some like the End of Days, but it was just coincidence that classes started today, the same day as America’s famous solar eclipse.

Even though Keene, Texas wasn’t favored with a total eclipse like much of the middle United States, students, faculty and staff were exposed to darkened skies, cooler weather and unnatural breezes at least for a few minutes along with 75 percent of the sun disappearing behind the moon for a few minutes.

Tristan Mikesell set up his telescope between the library and Findley Hall, where curious students took photos of the rare event.

Faculty and students in Southwestern’s science departments worked with student services to provide special telescopes, sunglasses and pinhole boxes that allowed a crowd of people to safely see the sky show outside Scales Hall, on the rotunda, and between Chan Shun Centennial Library and Findley Hall. The crowd came and went from 11:30 a.m. until about 1:30 in the afternoon, with the peak eclipse coverage happening at 1:09 p.m.

Wanda Agee, KJRN office manager, was fortunate enough to see the event for an extended amount of time and through various lenses. “We looked through every viewing station that was provided for us on campus,” Agee said. “We used the glasses, went through Tristan’s [Mikesell] telescope, and the pinhole device. I saw about 78% of the eclipse. It looked like a fiery moon. It was a cool experience; impressive. One thing, I thought it was interesting that when you looked around how everything looked like it was photoshopped with a filter. It wasn’t dark but it wasn’t bright. That’s and the fact that it was noticeably cooler at the time of the eclipse.”

Scales Hall faculty and students shared multiple ways for spectators to see the sky show.

“I used a friend’s glasses to view the eclipse and saw the shadow through the leaves, which acted as an indirect viewing mechanism,” said Cory Hanson, a junior computer science major. “Honestly, I was underwhelmed at the event. I thought there would be more to it than it really was.  I guess people over hyped it so much that I was expecting more than I saw here. However, despite all that it did feel surreal outside, like there was this strange aura. It was cool.”

“I actually went outside to look for the solar eclipse but didn’t see it,” says William Lizama, a junior history major. “I felt like I’d been lied to. I mean the things around me look like a filter on Instagram, so I saw the effect of it but I didn’t see the eclipse itself.”

“I didn’t see the eclipse at its peak but I did see it at its beginning stages on my way to the cafeteria, and when it was about to happen,” said Tanya Soria, senior communication major. “I didn’t have glasses so I borrowed someone else’s. I do wish I could’ve seen the full effect though, it would’ve been my first time seeing one.”

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