Darkness At Noon Event Shows Community the True Beauty Of This Summer’s Eclipse
Senior lecturer Art Stevenson discusses the circumstances surrounding the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. Photo by Ross Vetterkind

Darkness At Noon Event Shows Community the True Beauty Of This Summer’s Eclipse

On Thursday, Nov. 2, students, faculty and community members were invited to a public presentation, Darkness At Noon.

The attendees came to listen to highlights of trips made to Nebraska and Wyoming this summer to see the solar eclipse.

The North American total solar eclipse that happened on Aug. 21, 2017, caught the attention of many.

Liza Wernicke, a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate in physics and astronomy, discussed the tools and equipment used to view the eclipse.

“You know the saying bigger is better but when it comes to telescopes and viewing an eclipse smaller is actually better for viewing the sun,” Wernicke said.

Jesse John, senior education major, discussed how his goal during the event was to measure the exact diameter of the sun.

Both Wernicke and John used a special eye piece clip that attaches their phones to the telescope so they could record the eclipse. As they played the video, the crowd started to buzz and murmur when the crack of light disappeared while Wernicke and John excitedly exclaimed their amazement in the background of the video.

One of the telescopes used by the UWSP team to study the total solar eclipse. Photo by Ross Vetterkind

But not everything was simply done. The researchers did experience some issues. The telescopes had to

be readjusted and re-calibrated, and one of them completely shut off due to a connection problem.

“We practiced so much in advance, but still things went wrong,” Wernicke said. “There is no way you can be totally prepared for everything. But that’s just how science is. You do the best you can and make it up on the fly as you go if things go wrong.”

John mentioned one really great thing about this event was that it required some geometry to figure out the diameter of the sun.

“When I get out into the classrooms after I graduate, and my students ask me why they need to know this sort of thing, I can give them a real-life experience,” John said.

One of the telescopes used by the UWSP team to study the total solar eclipse. Photo by Ross Vetterkind

“This eclipse is a humbling reminder of the vast beauty that we live in. Not only are we a part of the universe but the universe is part of us,” said Alyssa Likeness, physics and astronomy major.

Geography and geology professor Neil Haywood discussed the relevance of the event along with connections made with others.

“No one can own an eclipse. They can only share it, and that’s what we all did,” Haywood said.

The event was attributed to locals who helped, along with financial sponsors and contributors. But the project would not have happened without the late Chris Cirmo who was the dean of the College of Letters and Sciences until his death in May of 2017.

Aaron Zimmerman
Reporter
Azimm667@uwsp.edu

About Aaron Zimmerman

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