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Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Chico del Sol 2017

As the fall 2017 semester launched into full swing at California State University, Chico, a special solar eclipse viewing party attracted hundreds of students to share in the astronomical phenomenon.

Co-hosted by the Office of the Provost and Regional & Continuing Education, the eclipse viewing party took place on the Glenn Lawn area on Monday, August 21st, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. The campus and Chico communities were invited to safely view and learn more about the solar eclipse, which lasted over two and a half hours.

A solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and Earth line up, and the moon obstructs sunlight reaching Earth. On that day, when the moon began its coverage of the sun at around 9 a.m., Chico experienced 85 percent of coverage at approximately 10:17 a.m. By around 11:30 a.m., the moon exited the sun’s path.

The eclipse viewing party gave out viewing glasses for free, as well as provided viewing cards and pinhole cameras to safely view this historic event. The Department of Physics also had solar telescopes on the Glenn Lawn to track the moon’s path in front of the sun. Additionally, a NASA livestream of the eclipse was shown at multiple locations around campus.

CSU, Chico assistant professor of physics Nick Nelson and the Student Physics Society were available to answer questions. According to Nelson, the last time Chico experienced this much coverage was during the full solar eclipse on January 1, 1889. The next time this area will experience similar coverage is 2024, but total coverage will be viewable in the region during the solar eclipse of August 12, 2045.

Debra Barger, dean of Regional & Continuing Education, said an almost-total solar eclipse occurring on the first day of classes inspired Academic Affairs and Student Affairs to collaborate on welcoming the community to share in this amazing natural phenomenon. "In addition to an opportunity to learn more about the science surrounding a solar eclipse across America, our beautiful campus provides a magnificent setting for participants to observe and even sketch the unique light patterns formed by the eclipse, all while accompanied by music emanating from Trinity Tower, as curated by the College of Humanities and Fine Arts," Barger added.