Bobcats fill the Quad to share the 2024 solar eclipse

Hundreds of viewing glasses, three tracking telescopes equipped with solar lenses, and faculty and student volunteers helped an enormous crowd of Bobcats witness the 2024 Solar Eclipse as spring weather warmed the Quad on April 8.

The eclipse, which began at 2:12 p.m., peaked at 3:37 p.m, slipping the Mount Carmel Campus into temporary twilight and raising a cheer from the crowd.

More than 1,000 students, faculty and staff gathered to see the solar show. Groups began arriving as early as 1 p.m. to pick up a free pair of eclipse viewing glasses, read up on eclipse viewing tips and scientific facts posted around the Quad, and settle in with friends. Hundreds more watched from the North Haven and York Hill campuses. And more than a dozen students, faculty and staff from the School of Computing and Engineering saw the eclipse in the path of totality in Vermont.

Assistant Teaching Professor of Physics Robert Fischetti, organized the Mount Carmel Campus viewing event, where he was assisted by students from his astronomy physics class and members of Quinnipiac Astronomy Club. While Connecticut was not in the path of totality, the 2024 solar eclipse was a rare occurrence and Quinnipiac was fortunate to be close to it, said Fischetti.

Fischetti calculated the formula which allowed two computerized telescopes and one manually operated telescope to track the eclipse.

“They all operate on a formula in which the telescope needs to rotate in the opposite direction of the earth to stay on the sun,” explained Fischetti.

Erika Pinto ’27, a first-year student in the mechanical engineering program, volunteered to help Fischetti as a telescope handler by keeping an eye on an automatic tracking readout.

“I love these telescopes," said Pinto. “It’s really cool that they reflect the sun, and it’s not a direct projection. I’m glad to be helping out, and on a college campus, no less. It’s almost like a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Fischetti said it took a couple of months to plan for the event, with the biggest hurdle turning out to be hunting down eclipse viewing glasses at a time when the entire country was buying them up.

Friends Katie Potter ’27, and Katie Valutkevich ’27, secured their viewing glasses early and found a prime viewing location among viewers lining the walls and filling the steps of the Arnold Bernhard Library.

“This is one of the nicest days of the whole year so it’s really nice that the eclipse happens to be today. I feel like I’m now truly able to see how much of a community Quinnipiac is. It’s really nice to see everyone out here,” said Potter.

“This is my first time ever seeing it, and for it to big such a big deal, and to be witnessing it here is really amazing,” said Valutkevich. “This will probably be one of my biggest Quinnipiac memories."

Matthew Pensley ’24, didn’t have viewing glasses, but followed some step-by-step instructions and used materials provided to construct a homemade projector.

“They had a big line for glasses, and I didn’t want to wait, so I decided to make one of these,” said Pensley. “Basically, it’s a cereal box with some holes in it, and a piece of white paper at the bottom, and tin foil on the top with some holes; and then I’ve situated myself opposite from where the sun’s coming from. It’s working pretty well.”

Quinnipiac Chronicle creative director Peyton McKenzie ’24, looked up ideas on how to best rig up his camera to safely document the eclipse for the campus newspaper.

“I have a long 6mm lens and I’ve taped a piece of welding glass to the front of it, so it’s dark enough to not damage my camera sensor and take a photo of the sun,” said McKenzie.

Robert Hansen, assistant professor of chemistry physical sciences and environmental sciences, was also sharing some specialized equipment he brought out for the event, for an experiment to teach atmospheric chemistry involving ozone detection.

Hansen said there are countless experiments and teaching opportunities across many disciplines that could be tied to the eclipse.

“This is the perfect opportunity. We’re in a great location and we have great weather, too, although I’m kind of sad, because I’m from Ohio and they’re in the path of totality. But this is close enough! We’re going to get some impact,” said Hansen.

Quinnipiac Astronomy Club member Matt Sheehy ’26, said the club was hoping to record footage of the eclipse through a telescope equipped with a solar lens, then share the recording with Bobcat nation.

As an astronomy buff, Sheehy said witnessing the solar eclipse with his club and fellow Bobcats was a thrill.

“This event means the world to me. I’ve been excited about this for months,” said Sheehy. “It's super, super cool.”

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