Eclipse Celebration creates unique science education experience
To share the wonder of science, Radford University’s Eclipse Celebration directed eyes skyward.
More than 1,300 people joined Professor of Physics Rhett Herman and colleagues from the Artis College of Science and Technology to experience a solar eclipse in which the moon slid between the earth and the sun.
“I am amazed,” said Herman, “The interest today has been stunning.”
The Radford University Planetarium’s Eclipse Celebration offered two perspectives on the eclipse of 2017.
At 2:29 p.m., families, students and guests saw a 100 percent eclipse occur in Nashville, Tennessee, beamed back by a 10-member of observers, led by Physics Instructor Mike Freed.
Freed and his team were part of the Citizen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse Experiment to capture telescopic images of the solar corona from 60 locations for a film of the eclipse’s west-to-east transcontinental passage.
At 2:40, the celebration spilled outside the Center for the Sciences as the eclipsed sun dimmed to turn summer afternoon into a gloaming or twilight.
The youngest eclipse observer was seven-week-old Maverick Ramsey, accompanied by his parents Davonta Ramsey and Bethany Myers.
“This is his first trip out,” said Myers. “We want to show him the world. He may not remember it, but this begins his experiences with the world, nature and science.”
Sarah Garza ’17, a physics graduate and alumni member of the Society of Physics Students, manned a table at which she played a match game with children.
“An event of this magnitude shows how science, like music, can be an avenue to bring us together,” Garza said as she watched Sam Burnett and his daughter Hailey of Christiansburg match planets from NASA photographs.
“I took a day off from work to share this with Hailey,” Burnett said. “It is important.”
Jesse Green, a sophomore from Christiansburg High School, said, “A solar eclipse is a once in a lifetime event.”
Erik Owesney, a senior physics major from Winchester, was part of a team of volunteers who hosted activities for all ages, courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Blacksburg, the Radford City Public Library, Wine and Design, the Radford City Schools and the Radford University Physics Department.
“It is fun to be part of a gathering like this that is focused on curiosity,” Owesney said as he and Jamee Jordan, a music major from Green River, Wyoming, demonstrated the unique celestial choreography of an eclipse with a globe balloon, a trouble light and a ball to those queued up for the day’s full slate of planetarium shows. “Understanding the world around us is healthy for the mind and the spirit.”