Ready, Set, Safely View: Catawba Classes Get Eclipsed by Solar Phenomenon
August 21, 2017
Approximately 600 members of the Catawba College community queued up on the lawn of the Omwake-Dearborn Chapel beginning at noon on Monday, August 21, patiently waiting for their pair of solar eclipse glasses.
Faculty organizers from across disciplines say people began lining up more than 45 minutes before they distributed 550 pairs of the glasses. More than 30 individuals were turned away when the campus supply was depleted. Some shared the glasses they received, others bought and brought their own, still others made pinhole viewers to safely see the moon pass in front of the sun and experience the 96% eclipse that occurred in Salisbury.
"It's a great opportunity to come out with friends and witness a nice natural phenomenon," shared another sophomore, Danielle Ritz of Lexington.
Catawba History Professor Dr. Gary Freeze spoke briefly before 2:41 p.m. when the maximum eclipse (96%) occurred on campus, noting that the pre-modern view of eclipses was that they were "disrupters of the natural order." Then by the 1500s, he explained eclipses became "guarantors of the regularity that occurs in nature."
Today, Freeze said, by coming together and knowing what causes an eclipse to occur, "it endlessly teaches us something new. While it is familiar, it takes you to a new place of wonder and inquiry. For example how do different individuals deal with the odd light that the eclipse casts? As the light changes, is there a change in you? Then, what are the quantum changes we can expect in this moment?
"We have come to trust science and then we can debate science realizing that science is only a step into what you don't know and that it is a vehicle to take you to a place that you want to go."
By 3:30 p.m., the Chapel lawn was empty of people, but many left with their memorabilia of the event: cell phone images, eclipse glasses and paper pennants created by the Science Departments commemorating the place and the date of the solar eclipse.