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Southwestern Hosts a Party for the Solar Eclipse of 2024

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Southwestern Hosts a Party for the Solar Eclipse of 2024


Southwestern University found itself in the path of totality on April 8, 2024. Students came together at the academic mall, and at around 1:30 p.m., the moon obstructed the sun, causing a night-like environment to envelop the previously sunny academic mall. 

Throughout the day, a partially cloudy environment caused low visibility; however, by the time of totality, the sky had cleared up, giving students and community members alike a great view of this astronomical event.

With the influx of visitors across the country, many Texas counties issued disaster declarations. However, Southwestern University took advantage of the around 3,000 expected visitors by opening additional visitor parking spots at the Maple Street field parking area and Outreach Center, charging $60. Further commercialization by the school included sales of exclusive T-shirts and the presence of food vendors El Hombre Taco and Lulu’s Pie Shoppe.

Photos by Carolyn Bray and Danielle Ferebee, collage by Danielle Ferebee

It is important to contextualize how the addition of parking spots this semester has not been solely for the eclipse. This semester, student concerns about parking availability on campus prompted the administration to create a string of short-term temporary lots, similar to the one area designated.

SU announced that during the eclipse, “SUPD will enforce on-campus parking rules to protect student, faculty, and staff spots,” indicating that the verification of SU’s parking permits would be particularly stringent. This comes as the administration is giving the Student Government Association a committee to address parking appeals on campus.

Outside of the logistics of parking enforcement, Southwestern provided fun and informative entertainment on this special occasion. While many focused on the commercial and entertainment aspects of the eclipse, academic and astronomical knowledge was still present. In fact, in the Bishop’s Lounge of the McCombs Campus Center, a video displayed Associate Professor of Physics Dr. Mark Bottorff, who gave insight into the eclipse.

Photo by Danielle Ferebee

This is the second solar eclipse this academic year students have experienced. The next total solar eclipse in the United States won’t be until 2044 in Montana. The next one in Texas is not expected until August 12, 2045, when NASA expects the eclipse to go through a few counties in the panhandle. It’s safe to say Southwestern students and Georgetown residents experienced history.

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