On Aug. 21, the world was still. People marveled at the image in the sky with solar glasses perched on their noses. It was a rare sighting: the first total eclipse since 1979 that was visible, in varying degrees, all across the United States. UVU students didn’t miss their opportunity to join in watching the exceptional event. On that day, students filed out onto the lawn and drew a collective breath as they gazed upon the eclipse.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon covers the sun. In a total eclipse, the sun is completely covered, allowing us to view its corona, a burning ring of hot plasma. As the sun is covered, the sky grows darker and even is “night-like” in some areas, depending on the degree of totality. Utah experienced 91 percent of the eclipse, and although it wasn’t complete totality, it didn’t disappoint.
Student Max Bone travels to watch eclipses locally. This was his fourth or fifth and he said that it was “the best that he’s ever seen.”
“I was very excited for this,” freshman Matthew Dickie said.
His excitement was shared with hundreds of students who were anxious to watch. When the moon concealed the sun, the sky dimmed to a darker hue of blue, and the temperature grew cooler as a chill of wonder buzzed through the air. Everyone gasped in awe, then shouted in amazement. UVU students shared a complete human experience during this phenomenon,.
The Associated Press reported it to be the most watched solar eclipse in history. Although it is impossible to know exactly how many people witnessed it, polls have been an indication of the numbers. The massive amounts of people who traveled to experience the eclipse in its totality showed the excitement and curiosity that buzzed throughout the nation. Thousands of people traveled to Idaho just to see the eclipse, including hundreds of Utahns. One of those Utahns was UVU senior David Gann.
“Observing the eclipse struck me to the core of my soul. I looked on as the most powerful object in my life — source of all light and life on earth — was overtaken by darkness. In some unconscious corner of my mind, I wondered if life was over, if this was the end. It felt as though a symbolic, celestial struggle was taking place between darkness and light and that the world hung in the balance,” Gann said, “For two minutes and seventeen seconds the world held its collective breath and waited. I will never forget the moment the sun came back. Everyone went crazy cheering and shouting for joy. The sun emerged victorious. All was right with the world, and new hope burned as brightly in our hearts as the sun did in the sky.”
Hang onto your solar glasses, because the next total eclipse in America will be in 2024, and you won’t want to miss it. In the meantime, there are still plenty of phenomenons to witness this year.
On Sept. 5, Neptune will be visible at its largest and brightest. It will be opposite of the sun and be its closest to earth. However, it will be best to view with a telescope.
On Nov. 13, Venus and Jupiter will have a close encounter to each other, almost appearing as a “double-star.” This will also be viewed best with a telescope or a pair of binoculars during twilight.
Dec. 3 will feature a super moon, where the moon will be in a full moon stage and will appear brighter and larger as it’s closer to earth. The astronomical phenomenons this year will end with a meteor shower during Dec. 13 to14, with up to 120 shooting stars per hour at peak viewing time.