A diverse group gathered outside of Texas Tech’s library on Monday, some staring in puddles, others into boxes, and still others through dark glasses at a partial eclipse on a cloudy morning and afternoon.
Jessica Simpson is a physics librarian and a member of Tech’s STEM-CORE, or Center for Outreach, Research & Education of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. She estimated there were 1,000 people at the Tech Library event.
“We had 500 glasses, and they were gone within 10 minutes. They did not last at all,” Simpson said.
Vicky Ortiz and two of her children, Isabella, 8, and Tommy, 10, were at the Tech Library early to get sunglasses and see the eclipse. Ortiz said she was going to take them to the Science Spectrum, but decided the university was closer. Her children were supposed to be in daycare, she said, but they were interested in the eclipse.
Ortiz said she had never seen an eclipse before and was impressed by it. But she was also making sure everyone around her had a chance to use the glasses to take a peek at a solar event that many could only see once in a lifetime. She also showed people around her how to see the reflection of the eclipsed sun in a puddle of water, which several people were gathering around to get a glimpse.
Nearby, Jan Edmister and Jan O’Boyle said they and others around them were using their phones to view the eclipse when it was behind clouds, catching the sun’s reflection of their phones’ glass screens. Then they shared glasses to view the eclipse when the sun broke out from behind the clouds.
Each time the sun peeked out, a cheer would rise from the crowd as well.
“It’s exciting to do it in a group,” Edmister said, noting she saw a partial eclipse in the 1970s, but it was not a community event. She is a retiree from the TTU Health Sciences Center
“It makes it more fun,” O’Boyle replied.
Aaron Meyer, a sophomore who is transferring to Tech from the Austin area this week, said his family owns telescopes and regularly looks for events like comets that they can experience together. He and his mother, Joyce, came to Lubbock a day early so they could view the eclipse together.
But he said although they make a point to see celestial events, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Joyce Meyer said by the time they arrived at the library, all of the special glasses were gone. But they hung around in hopes that they could get someone to share, and more were made available right before the eclipse began.
“We were the ones who were nice and shared,” Joyce Meyer said.
The event allowed them to make memories together, but also to make new friends around them.
She pointed out another young man next to them who had shared his school memories of viewing a total eclipse — in Ghana.
David Koblah, a junior electrical engineering major, said he was just a child when an eclipse passed over Ghana.
“I remember the last time, it was complete darkness,” he said. “It’s my first time experiencing the partial darkness.”
In Ghana, Koblah remembers viewing glasses were distributed to the entire population.
“So everyone had glasses. Every single one,” he said. “It was free. We all viewed it. The entire nation watched it.”
As a middle school student, he said the teachers wouldn’t allow the entire school outside at once in total darkness. So they allowed smaller groups out for about 30 seconds each to view the eclipse.
He did not do a lot of photography back then, but he said he tries to take artistic photos now to get his mind off complicated math problems in the engineering department.
Koblah will always remember both of his experiences during an eclipse, he said. He knows it is a rare sight within a lifetime, and viewing a second eclipse was even more exciting. As he spoke, the Texas Tech Goin’ Band began rehearsing in the parking lot next to the library, a sign of a bustling campus about to begin a new school year.
“It’s really great being a part of this, especially in two countries, two different continents,” Koblah said.
Many of the students at the event were brand new freshmen at Tech. Some said they were overwhelmed with all of the changes going on in their lives, and also overwhelmed at the sight of an eclipse.
Tiffany Adedayo, a freshman from Dallas, said this was her first time to see such an event.
“It’s very exciting and overwhelming, and I see it as a new start for me, or as a sign of good luck for me, for my first year in college,” Adedayo said.