Auburn gathers to watch the first total solar eclipse in decades


An unaware bystander would probably be in shock to see hundreds of Auburn students and residents sitting and laying on the Green Space, looking up at the sky like they did today. 

The mass of people, mostly students, were huddled in groups, relaxing with friends, socializing and seemingly enjoying the experience. The atmosphere was reminiscent of a music festival.

With the Auburn sun still as hot as ever, beaming down on spectators, the time for the total eclipse proceeded on. The time lapsing took visible slivers of the sun gradually away from the many onlookers.

As the sun became eclipsed, the temperature dropped and the people of Auburn got to truly experience the first full solar eclipse in the United States since 1979.

In Auburn, about 93 percent of the sun was eclipsed.

Most students had their own protective glasses, however, Manie Vongdara, sophomore at Auburn, had a different idea.

Getting the idea from YouTube, Vongdara fashioned her own eclipse viewing apparatus out of a cereal box. The idea was also publicized by NASA and the National Weather Service when the supply of approved eclipse glasses dwindled across the U.S. in the week ahead of the eclipse.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to get glasses so I just made this before I went to class," Vongdara said.

Charles Edmonds, a former finance professor at Auburn, enjoyed the view with his wife and recalls the previous total eclipse in 1979.

"It's much more of an experience now than it was then," Edmonds said.

Although he enjoyed the eclipse, Edmonds admitted one thing. 

"Watching the students enjoy the eclipse is more fun than the eclipse itself," Edmonds said.

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Since the event hasn't happened in nearly four decades it was to be expected that the event, sponsored by the Auburn COSAM department and the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, would draw a large crowd.

However, it is rare to see this kind of crowd of Auburn men and women in any event that does not involve sports.

"It shows that you can get a crowd in Auburn without football." Sylvia Norris, a bystander at the event said.

Luckily, for those who enjoyed the eclipse and the whole experience, the wait is not another 38 years. The next total solar eclipse will occur on April, 8 2024, less than seven years away.

Auburn can look forward to another gathering, like the one that happened on the first day of fall 2017 classes, on that day in the future.

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