The Student Movement


Cosmic Phenomenon Comes to Andrews: 2024 Eclipse

Melissa Moore

Photo by Lydia Ruckle

2024 has been a special year for those interested in space phenomena. On April 8, a total solar eclipse raced across North America, visible from parts of Mexico, the United States, and Canada. According to The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a total solar eclipse takes place when the moon’s path runs between the Earth and the sun, temporarily casting a shadow on Earth and blocking everything except the sun’s outer atmosphere from view. Typically, the outer atmosphere of the sun, known as the corona, is not visible because the sun’s surface underneath the corona is too bright. However, when the moon covers the face of the sun during totality, the corona is visible for a few rare moments. The sky will also grow dark, and nocturnal animals may begin to emerge, confused by the lack of light.

While there are other types of eclipses that occur more frequently, total eclipses take place about once every 18 months, according to the National Solar Observatory (NSO). However, total eclipses follow a different path during subsequent years, meaning it may take about 400 years for any given place to experience another total solar eclipse. Part of what made this recent eclipse so special is that it was the last total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States for the next 20 years, the next occurring August 23, 2044. Additionally, a writer for NASA explains that this eclipse is special because the path of totality is wider than that of the last eclipse visible in the US, which took place in 2017. Additionally, totality persisted for longer periods of time compared to the 2017 total solar eclipse. There was also increased solar activity.

Luckily, Andrews University is only a few hours from many locations in the path of totality this eclipse passed through. According to NASA, this is the closest Andrews has been to the path of totality since 1954. As a result, many students took the opportunity to travel and pursue a glimpse of the total eclipse. Some individuals set out on their own, but Andrews University also transported a group of students, who signed up at the beginning of the semester, via bus. For those who stayed behind, a partial eclipse was visible from campus. Eclipse glasses — used to safely observe the eclipse — were available from Student Life ahead of time since viewers cannot look at any stage other than totality without special protective eyewear. On campus, the day dawned bright, sunny, and cloudless. By 2 pm, the lawn in front of the campus center was crawling with students, either in line to buy fried Oreos and doughnuts at the food truck or stretching out on the lawn with friends to observe the partial eclipse, with the climax occurring at 3:09 pm EST. Meanwhile, the Andrews University bus crew were viewing the total eclipse from Thompsonville, Illinois, where totality took place from 2:00-2:04 pm CDT. The group had left campus earlier that morning at 2 am, and they left Illinois a few hours after totality, providing passengers with plenty of time to observe the eclipse. Students who experienced the total eclipse from various locations expressed positive responses. Lisa Obara (freshman, explore Andrews) describes the event as “a real experience [that] felt completely surreal. I hope to remember those four minutes for the rest of my life. It was pretty awesome.”

April 8 was certainly special for the Andrews University campus, with its location compared to the trajectory of the solar eclipse. While not everyone was able to partake in the full experience of a total eclipse, many individuals were able to participate on some level and enjoyed the experience. Now, future eclipse chasers will have to sit back and relax until 2044 if they wish to see another total solar eclipse without leaving the United States.


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The Student Movement is the official student newspaper of Andrews University. Opinions expressed in the Student Movement are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, Andrews University or the Seventh-day Adventist church.