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Ohio State planetarium opens roof for partial solar eclipse viewing

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Students and members of the public take to the OSU planetarium Oct. 23 to view a partial solar eclipse. Credit: Anbo Yao / Lantern reporter

Students and members of the public take to the OSU planetarium Oct. 23 to view a partial solar eclipse.
Credit: Anbo Yao / Lantern reporter

If Columbus got a little darker yesterday afternoon, it’s not because of clouds. The sun was blocked by the moon — a phenomenon more commonly known as a solar eclipse. Meanwhile, some Ohio State students took to the rooftop of the OSU planetarium to see the rare moment.

The solar eclipse was visible in North America in different degrees. In Columbus, people were able to see a partial eclipse once it reached maximum overlapping, said Wayne Schlingman, director of the OSU planetarium.

The phenomenon of a partial solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, covering part of the sun.

OSU’s planetarium threw a free public event at Smith Lab’s planetarium on Thursday afternoon for those who wanted to witness the eclipse.

“We have a free planetarium show to explain what the eclipse is and how it works and why (the) moon is blocking the sun and along with that, we are having solar telescopes up on the roof and people are going to observe the sun,” Schlingman said.

Graduate astronomy students talked about the eclipse while the simulation software system displayed graphs that explained how it works. Viewers virtually flew between spaces and saw how the eclipse appear differently from other locations.

After the live show, dozens of viewers went to the observing deck to watch the solar eclipse. The eclipse began at 5:45 p.m., said Steven Villanueva, a graduate student in astronomy.

The viewers, which included students and members of the public, used special sun-proofed glasses to safely view the sun.

Villanueva said it was a rare phenomenon because the next solar eclipse will not be available to North America until 2017.

He added showing other people the eclipse was a good experience for him as well.

“It’s one thing to teach someone in the classroom and it’s another thing to be able to show them the actual telescopes,” Villanueva said.

Arnold Osei-Owusu, a third-year in economics ,said he enjoyed solar eclipse and the event even though he has no academic background in astronomy.

“It’s really cool for people to show up even they are not specifically into astronomy and you still come and see because it’s pretty cool and it’s important,” Osei-Owusu said.

And for the planetarium’s staff, it’s about educating the public.

“We want people to come in,” Schlingman said. “We want people to look up and understand their sky. We want to provide people with resources where they can ask questions and learn something.”

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