Campbell to host public viewing of solar eclipse on April 8

While not part of the ‘total eclipse’ path, Campbell viewers will see 80% block of the sun

Campbell University will host a viewing event for the April 8 solar eclipse outside of the John W. Pope Convocation Center (near the Fighting Camel statue). According to Jason Ezell, assistant professor of physics, tents, tables and chairs will be set up, and viewing glasses will be handed out to the first 200 on hand (a large screen will be set up for those without glasses). 

Central North Carolina is not in the “total solar eclipse” path, but the area will see about an 80-percent blockage of the sun by the moon’s shadow. Campbell hosted an event during the last eclipse in August of 2017 at Barker-Lane Stadium. The next eclipse viewable in the U.S. won’t happen again until 2044. 

“Hopefully, here in Buies Creek, the bright spring sun will dim noticeably until only a little more than 20 percent of its disk is visible,” Ezell said. “And even though this sounds small, the remaining ‘crescent sun’ is still bright enough to permanently damage someone’s eyes. Further to the west (roughly Texas through Maine), the angle the moon makes with respect to the sun is such that an observer will see the sun totally blocked. This will reveal the corona, a region of high temperature ionized hydrogen that surrounds the sun. This will only be visible for a few minutes at most, then the moon will continue on its way. The overpoweringly bright disk of the sun will reappear and blot out the view of the corona. As impressive as our view will be, totality by all accounts is breathtaking.”

The eclipse will begin at approximately 1:58 p.m. on April 8, with “maximum occultation” beginning at 3:15. The eclipse event will end at roughly 4:28 p.m., Ezell said. 

Ezell said the sky will get darker, and there will be a slight drop in temperature. 

“We will have a variety of scopes available so that students and visitors alike can safely view the event in several different ways,” Ezell said. “We will coordinate with Public Safety so that they can assist with the crowds that may assemble.”

Solar eclipse’s are rare events, so the April 8 event will not only be entertaining, but it will be an educational opportunity for Campbell students as well, Ezell said. 

“The eclipse drives home the point that the universe is ‘knowable,'” he said. “The date and time of this particular eclipse has been known for centuries. We have figured out a lot about how the Earth, sun and moon and the rest of the solar system works. Nothing drives that point home like seeing a big bite being taken out of the sun. But more practically, it will be an opportunity for the Campbell Astronomical Society to educate everyone not only on astronomy, but light, telescopes and other astonishing topics.”

To prep for the April 8 event, Ezell and his students will host a public viewing of a partial lunar eclipse on March 25. Night owls can arrive at the Academic Circle from 2 to 4 a.m. that morning to be a part of that viewing.