The much-anticipated solar eclipse brought out hundreds of spectators on Monday afternoon. Students began lining up near the Rock well before 1:30 p.m., when Student Activities and Student Organizations (SASO) and UAstronomy were scheduled to distribute over 300 pairs of protective eclipse glasses. At one point, the line of students wrapped around the Office of Admission down Stanford Drive.
Samantha Verling said she got in line around 12:50 p.m. The senior neuroscience major said it was worth the wait.
“You barely ever get to see something like this. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I wouldn’t miss it,” Verling said.
The last time the United States was in the eclipse’s path of totality was nearly a century ago, in 1918. To commemorate the historic event SASO partnered with UAstronomy, a student organization, to host eclipse viewing parties at the Rock and the Knight Physics building.
Administrators, like the new provost Jeffrey Duerk, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Leonidas Bachas and First Lady Felicia Knaul gathered in the courtyard. While many relied on the certified protective glasses, Duerk created a pinhole camera out of cardboard and walked around letting students watch a tiny eclipse projected on a piece of paper.
By 2:15 p.m., approximately 43 minutes shy of the eclipse’s peak in Florida, students were still in line hoping to get their hands on sunglasses. Freshman Mattie Marano, who got in line at 1:10 p.m., said she still had hope to get to see the eclipse.
“I don’t have anywhere to be and I want to see it at the prime time,” said Marano, a double major in marketing and finance.
Some of students who were able to snag the coveted sunglasses offered theirs up to share. Junior René Betancourt walked around The Rock, offering to lend his glasses for others to have “a taste” of the eclipse.
“Changing the planet, two eyeballs at a time,” he said.
When Betancourt lent the glasses to junior Cole Kugler, who said he had been waiting in line for 20 minutes and was a few people away from the getting his own pair, Kugler was not very impressed.
“So underwhelming,” he said.
Junior Matt Wenstrom was similarly not amazed. He said it was like a normal day, “with a little less sun” and he was just there because his friends were.
“I’m out here because it’s supposed to be a big deal and everyone said that it’s supposed to be like the coolest thing ever…I personally don’t care but it’s turned into a social event,” said Wenstrom, an economics major.
Freshmen Naomy Lelis and Paula Da Silva said they waited about an hour in line for glasses and when they did snag a pair, they made it an event. The two laid down on a grassy patch near The Rock, shared a pair of earphones and slipped their glasses on.
By 3:30 p.m. – after the peak of the eclipse – organizers at The Rock said 392 students had swiped Cane cards in exchange for a pair.
The solar eclipse occurred in Florida from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., with peak coverage at around 2:58 p.m. The next time total solar eclipse with a path of totality will pass through the United States will be in 2024.