What’s in an eclipse? For Lander students, it’s a day to remember

April 9, 2024

GREENWOOD, S.C. — Sure, there’s science associated with an eclipse – and a lot of hype, too.

But for students at Lander University, the 2024 solar eclipse – seen only in North America – was a chance to make memories with friends on a spring afternoon as the moon passed between Earth and the sun.

Silas Schiera, a junior music major from Greenwood, has been planning to enjoy the day for about six months. He brought his own telescope, an impulse purchase months ago, to campus. During the 2017 eclipse, Schiera said he was living in Pennsylvania where the eclipse covered approximately 80 percent of the sun. “It’s kind of funny that for that eclipse I was living in a place with about 80 percent coverage, and now the coverage is about the same.”

Schiera already is looking ahead to 2044, when the next total solar eclipse appears for sky gazers in the United States. He’s heading to a place where the eclipse will offer more darkness. “I want to experience a full, total eclipse.”

Physics professor Dr. Dave Slimmer brought students from two classes, including a Physics 101 lab, to watch the eclipse. “We’ve been talking about the eclipse in our classes,” Slimmer said. “Having the chance to watch it definitely leads to more questions and more interest in class.”

One of those students, sophomore Giacomo Sartori, a soccer player from Italy, said he was enjoying the time with his classmates because of the excitement generated by the eclipse. “In Italy, it’s not a big thing,” he said. “It’s good that the University is promoting this to students and giving us the chance to watch it.”

Freshmen Jaden Adams and Crystal Cole, both of Greenwood, turned the eclipse into a chance for a picnic in front of Chipley Hall.

“I saw the eclipse when I was younger, but it didn’t last long,” Adams said. “I think this will be more historical for me.”

Cole agreed. “I barely remember the one in 2017. We were outside for about five minutes. This eclipse will be something that I’ll remember.”

The chance to view the eclipse involved a major question for accounting major Christian Shasky, of Virginia Beach: Should he skip one of his non-science classes for the chance to be with friends outdoors and view the eclipse?

“I’ll be in that class on Wednesday,” Shasky said. “Today is the eclipse.”

And spoiler alert for students in Slimmer’s physics classes: The eclipse is likely to be a topic on the upcoming final exam for the semester.