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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Total eclipse: basking in the afterglow

Students gathered on Battell Beach to observe the eclipse totality, which occurred for about one minute at 3:27p.m. in Middlebury.
Students gathered on Battell Beach to observe the eclipse totality, which occurred for about one minute at 3:27p.m. in Middlebury.

Middlebury was abuzz Monday afternoon with post-eclipse excitement as students, faculty, staff and community members reflected on the much-anticipated solar eclipse. This eclipse marks the first time since 1932 that Middlebury has been in the path of totality of a solar eclipse. The next time Vermont will experience a total solar eclipse will be in 2079, and Middlebury will not be in the path of totality. 

The college celebrated this unique event with various eclipse-related events held throughout last week and on Monday and Tuesday of this week. These events included a Solar Eclipse Lecture Series — sponsored by the Mittelman Observatory and the Department of Physics — as well as eclipse-themed bracelet making and cookie decorating. 

The culmination of these events was the solar eclipse itself. The college hosted a viewing party on Battell Beach, where they provided students with glasses that ensured safe viewing of the sky. Many students attended the Battell Beach festivities and enjoyed refreshments, music and lawn games. 

Amy Carlin, presidential events specialist, has been heavily involved in the coordination of the Battell Beach eclipse event. 

“The viewing party at Battell Beach provides an opportunity for our faculty, staff and students to gather as a community for this rare and significant celestial event,” Carlin wrote in an email to The Campus last week. 

Carlin worked alongside Observatory Specialist Dr. Catherine Miller, the Events Management Team, Dining Services, Communications and Marketing, the Department of Physics, Student Activities Organization and MCAB to make the viewing party happen. She expressed appreciation for everyone who helped create both the week of events leading up to the eclipse, and the viewing event itself. 

Students were not disappointed. 

“The energy on Battell Beach was awesome. It was so wholesome and felt like we were in a 90s movie. There was fun music playing and a lot of Spikeball and footballs/frisbees being thrown around. You could almost feel the happiness in the air with the nice weather,” Lucca Franz ’26 wrote in a message to The Campus.

On campus, the partial phase of the eclipse began around 2:14 p.m.

“As it became darker, I grew more excited, and everyone around was transfixed on the sky,” Hanna Freund ’27 wrote. 

The eclipse reached totality around 3:27 p.m., lasting for about a minute. 

“During the eclipse, there was a moment of awe, and then people began cheering — the shared moment felt like a form of bonding across members of our campus. I am so glad that the school was able to lean into such a beautiful moment and soak it up,” Hailey Vandenbosch ’24 wrote in a message to The Campus. 

In addition to the cheering, Franz described hearing the amazement  in the crowd gathered together outside. 

“The energy during the total eclipse was pure excitement, and everyone was astonished at how cool it was. There was a lot of cheering, clapping, and ‘Woahhhs.’ It was very special that our campus got to share such a unique amazing moment together,” Franz wrote.

Other students agreed with the power of the group viewing event. 

“To put it simply, the eclipse was an awe-inspiring experience,” Mary Nagy-Benson ’24.5 wrote in a message to The Campus. “For me, not only was the eclipse amazing and like nothing I’ve even seen before, but to experience it with hundreds of my peers simultaneously felt unifying and connecting.”

While many students trekked north on Monday, heading off-campus to experience the eclipse, those gathered around Battell Beach had plenty of company to make totality a defining moment in their four years at Middlebury.

“Being able to take the glasses off and experience darkness in the middle of the day was incredible. Sharing this rare experience with so many friends and classmates made the eclipse even more meaningful,” Freund wrote.

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The eclipse viewing event on Battell Beach included music, ice cream and a popcorn machine.

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