MIT community members gather on campus to view solar eclipse with 93 percent totality

The alignment of celestial bodies captivated the MIT campus on Monday. Following a rainy weekend, the community enjoyed clear skies and balmy temperatures to witness the sole partial eclipse for the upcoming two decades.

Residents of the community came together in both large and intimate groups to witness this unusual cosmic event. While some ventured north to witness the complete eclipse, those in Greater Boston were graced with 93 percent coverage, providing numerous opportunities to marvel at the celestial spectacle.

At Kresge Oval, crowds gathered as the moon slowly eclipsed the sun, starting at approximately 2:15 p.m. Attendees were offered various solar filters by staff members to aid in viewing and were encouraged to sketch and share their experiences. The event was orchestrated by the MT Edgerton Center and drew inspiration from the seminar EC.050/090 (Recreate Experiments from History: Inform the Future with the Past).

Simultaneously, across campus, the MIT Museum hosted an event filled with programming. Attendees had the chance to interact with an astronomer, pose questions, and observe the eclipse through solar filter glasses.

In Building 55, which houses the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), known for its celestial pursuits, NASA’s live stream was displayed on the department’s expansive new media wall, offering a unique viewing experience.

Each gathering resembled a scene from a science fiction film, with participants donning their protective eyewear and gazing in wonder at the dimming sky. Those who shared their spare glasses quickly found themselves forging new connections with fellow spectators.

“The Edgerton Center aims to foster communities, and this event brought the MIT community together to witness this rare occurrence and engage in meaningful discussions,” mentioned Jim Bales, the associate director of the Edgerton Center.

While historical events like eclipses often sparked trepidation and bewilderment, this time, MIT community members embraced the moment with gratitude and contemplation. Numerous students, faculty, and staff paused their daily routines to appreciate this extraordinary natural phenomenon, a delightful interruption to an ordinary Monday on Earth.

“Participating in watch parties is exciting because you learn from others and meet new people,” shared sophomore Sol Roberts. “While staring up at the sky is fascinating, sharing the moment with others adds to the enjoyment.”

Despite the awe-inspiring celestial display, MIT didn’t veer away from its scientific inclination. The community remained dedicated to furthering humanity’s understanding of the universe’s inner workings. Numerous community members engaged in various professional and citizen science projects. Additionally, MIT’s Haystack Observatory in Westford, Massachusetts monitored atmospheric changes, and the Department of Physics team collected data on the sun’s radiance utilizing the newly installed radio telescope atop Building 54.

While the skies showcased surreal imagery, the earth’s surface presented equally delightful scenes. The eclipse transformed into a blend of a cosmic event and a local gathering, a distant galactic rarity shared intimately among friends.

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