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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

‘The campus just stopped’: Solar eclipse captures students’ attention

Students gathered en masse across New England to watch the highly anticipated natural phenomenon on Monday.


Students flocked to President’s Lawn to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.

“Since the next total eclipse visible from the Eastern Seaboard won’t occur until 2024, a great many amateurs will also be out to look at, and photograph this event,” an article in the Tufts Observer read the day before the last total eclipse fell over New England in 1970.

But in a rare moment, scientific spectacle again eclipsed students’ usual academic schedules to bring hundreds of Tufts students flocking to President’s Lawn, basking in the dim light of the most recent partial eclipse on Monday. From the Medford/Somerville campus, students were able to catch a glimpse of a 93% covered sun using pairs of eclipse glasses, smartly passed between friends.

“It’s great to see the community come together and appreciate this natural wonder,” sophomore Cade Smith said. “And no one got their eyes burnt.”

At least one would hope. Many members of the Tufts community were out for the stellar sight, from students to faculty and staff.

“For a brief couple of minutes, the campus just stopped,” Katrina Barry, a Hodgdon-Food-on-the-Run employee, said. “Everyone was just out together, playing nice and enjoying the eclipse. It was just awesome that everyone came together like that for a good reason, for a change. … I think it was a good day for Tufts all around.”

Barry and the rest of her coworkers also had the chance to view the eclipse using glasses provided by a gracious student, passing the pair down a line. Each took a moment to appreciate the sun’s brief disappearance.

“I’m an old folk, so I’ve been there, seen it before,” Barry said. “But it’s never going to stop striking awe when I look at something like that — how magnificent nature is and what it can do.”

Students did not watch only from the Boston area. Members of the physics department and the Society of Physics Students embarked on a 19-hour journey to Burlington, Vt., where the eclipse reached full totality and covered the landscape in complete darkness. According to sophomore Ryan Luo, a member of SPS’s executive board, it was many students’ very first time seeing a full solar eclipse — including his own.

“When else is the chance that you can get to see this?” Luo asked. “As someone who is interested in physics and astrophysics, it was just amazing. It was breathtaking.”

Although another total solar eclipse is not predicted to fall over North America until 2044, students were able to appreciate a brief moment of community.

“It was amazing to see how many students even on campus, who didn’t get to go up to the path of totality, how interested they were in it,” Luo said. “It really reflects just the community itself, how happy they are to see such a cool thing.”