Hundreds of people converged on the University of New Orleans Monday to turn their eyes skyward and witness the rare passage of the moon between the earth and the sun. Students, teachers, parents, academics, alumni, faculty, staff and visitors from all over the city took a pause from their daily activities as they gathered at Earl K. Long Library with special eclipse glasses and homemade eclipse viewers fashioned from cardboard.
Prior to the main event, UNO astrophysicist Greg Seab and UNO mathematician Joel Webb each delivered brief lectures to a crowd of people gathered in the breezeway outside of the library. Indoors, visitors stopped in to view NASA’s livestream of the eclipse, grab some of the free solar eclipse glasses that were available and take selfies with an assortment of planetary and heavenly props.
By 1:20 p.m., the quad was buzzing with activity as guests took turns gazing through filtered telescopes, cameras and even a welding mask or two. Children stretched out on the grass next to parents. Students smiled shoulder to shoulder with peers. And when a brief cloud cover disappeared in time for the moon to give the sun its own peekaboo, applause and cheers rang out.
Sophomore chemistry major Kristen Stewart beamed as she peeked down into the cardboard viewer she’d fashioned at midnight the night before, a little sliver of light showing the sun eighty percent covered by the moon. “I’m so happy,” she said.