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Campus & Community

Partial Eclipse, Full Attention

Thousands Flock Outside to Celebrate Celestial Spectacle

By Sala Levin ’10

students watch eclipse on the mall

The eclipse-watching crowds Monday afternoon on McKeldin Mall rivaled that of a typical Maryland Day, as Terps paused to look up.

Photos by Stephanie S. Cordle

Protective paper shades perched on their noses, faces tilted toward the sky, thousands of students, faculty and staff clapped and cheered at the peak moment of Monday’s solar eclipse.

At a viewing party hosted by the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences and the Department of Astronomy outside Glenn L. Martin Hall, and all across McKeldin Mall, the atmosphere was festive: Students blew bubbles, posed for selfies in their eclipse gear, savored scoops of Maryland Dairy ice cream, tossed footballs and even did a little homework as they waited for the darkness—well, dimness—to descend.

solar eclipse

On the University of Maryland campus, hundreds of miles from the path of totality that stretched from Texas to Maine, the moon’s journey across the sun’s surface began at 2:04 p.m., according to the Naval Observatory’s solar eclipse computer.

Passing clouds occasionally covered, then revealed, the narrowing yet blindingly bright sliver of fire. The air noticeably cooled.

By 3:20, when it had covered 87.6% of the sun—the height of the event in College Park—a twilight haze had enveloped the crowd. For most of the students gathered outdoors, this was the most significant eclipse of their lifetimes.

“Seeing it as it fully went over the sun was pretty cool,” said Melissa Guillen ’26. For her friend, Valery Caicedo ’26, the people-watching was at least as good as the astronomical event. “The rush for getting glasses—the line was so long,” she said. “It literally went around the whole building.” (Caicedo didn’t wait in the line; she simply took a pair of glasses offered by volunteers milling through the crowd.)

Others were intrigued by the spaciness of it all. “We’re doing a space-based project for our synthetic biology class,” said Brooke Wunderler ’25, who was eating ice cream with bioengineering classmates Audrey Vassia ’25 and Vanshika Shah ’25. “We’re looking at muscle atrophy in astronauts, so we all have a little knack for space.”

students watch eclipse
Raquel Bowman '26, left, and Hadiya Grier '26 watch the eclipse.

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