BC Geology Society and Sustainability Club Host Eclipse Viewing Event 

The East Quad saw many students and faculty gathered to witness the eclipse./Tony Lipka

 

By Tejaswi Kunamneni  

   The Brooklyn College Geology Society and the Sustainability Club collaborated to host a solar eclipse viewing event on Monday, April 8 on the East Quad. The campus came alive as hundreds of BC students, professors, and administrators came together to witness the rare solar experience. 

   Solar eclipses are phenomena in which the moon crosses directly between Earth and the Sun, thereby temporarily blocking the face of the Sun from certain locations. It occurs about every 18 months, seen by certain places on Earth. To organizers of the event, the partnership was to combine sustainable measures with science to foster a greater understanding of the natural processes of Earth and beyond.

   “The primary goal of collaborating with the Geology Society for the eclipse viewing event was to integrate the concepts of sustainability with geological sciences. It’s essential to recognize that sustainability efforts extend beyond biological ecosystems to include the geophysical environment. Geologists play a crucial role in understanding our planet’s systems and resources, which directly impacts sustainable practices,” Sofia Maryiamis, president of the Sustainability Club, told The Vanguard. 

   This specific eclipse is considered to be a rare occurrence as it has a wide path of totality throughout North America, providing visibility to tens of millions. Attendees expressed that they wanted to be a part of seeing this rare phenomenon.

   “I came to the event because I myself am a physics major and do want to pursue astrophysics one day […] Even though we might not have 100%, other places are and it’s a pretty rare event,” said BC student Jessic Goldstein. “Especially in NYC, to see any solar event is incredible because of the light you can’t see any stars or comets, so it’s a really cool thing to see.”

   The eclipse traveled over 4,000 miles, with totality beginning in Texas and making its way up to New York and Canada after traveling through southern states. NYC was just outside the path of totality, with about 90% of the moon’s shadow covering the sun. Upstate locations, such as Syracuse and Buffalo, had thousands of people gather to observe full darkness resulting from 100% totality for up to 4 minutes and 28 seconds, according to Daily Mail. The eclipse comes at a time when NYC recently faced another rare environmental phenomena: an 4.8 magnitude earthquake. While some scientists claim there lies a connection between eclipses and earthquakes, it remains highly debated.

   “From a 2017 study, some scientists believe that the high stress on the tides caused by the new moon may affect the plates, which is why some people believe that earthquakes precede solar eclipses,” Tiasha Dey, president of the Geology Club, told The Vanguard. “However, the relation between geology and astronomical events is heavily debated. Some even claim it’s non-existent.” 

  The East Quad was filled with attendees to see the rare celestial event, all coming together to experience it. It was mostly sunny skies and good weather making for a good viewing experience. People began gathering for the event at around 2:00 P.M., with the eclipse starting at 2:10 P.M. and ending at 4:36 P.M. The peak was at 3:25 P.M., during which everyone on the quad looked up at the sky awe-inspired with their eclipse glasses on.

   “I came as a last-minute thing but being on campus for the eclipse is exciting, I didn’t expect so many people to show up, so I’m really excited,” said BC student Diana Khaimova. 

   Students claimed that it was the largest number of students and faculty on campus they had ever seen, with a diverse range of majors and departments sharing a common curiosity in science. “I think this is absolutely electric, I have never seen this many people on campus,” said BC student Carmine Tepedino. Student Mahdiya Siddiqui added, “I love seeing the community show up, both students and administrators.” 

   To prepare for the event, the Geology Society and Sustainability Club made sure to purchase enough glasses so that everyone could safely view it. Ensuring attendees had classes was critical, since the intense light and radiation from solar rays can burn through the eye lens, according to CBS News.

    “We purchased these glasses in bulk to ensure that everyone attending could safely view the eclipse without any barriers. This proactive step was fundamental, considering the unexpected high turnout,” said Maryiamis. 

   Many faculty and students shared glasses to ensure everyone could take part. “I knew the eclipse was happening so I ordered glasses for both my classes today, and we planned to come out here,” adjunct professor Kathleen Gilrain told The Vanguard. 

   As for sustainable measures on what to do with the glasses after the event, organizers suggest attendees bring them to Ingersoll 2131 so that they can be donated to Eclipse Glasses USA. This organization will send the glasses to underserved communities and schools in different parts of the world for future eclipses, supporting children who may otherwise not have had the opportunity to safely witness the spectacle. 

   The next solar eclipse won’t be until Aug. 23, 2024, and while far away, the 2024 eclipse created a foundation of lasting community.

   “One of the most remarkable aspects of the event was the spontaneous interaction between students from diverse majors who share a common interest in sustainability and science,” said Maryiamis. “It was beautiful. These events are not just educational; they are a celebration of community and shared curiosity.” 

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