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Fresno State students wear their eclipse viewing glasses to get a glimpse of the partial eclipse over Fresno. The eclipse-viewing event took place outside the Engineering East Building on Aug 21, 2017. (Daniel Avalos/The Collegian)

Students eclipsed with historic sight

Fresno State students and staff gathered around campus on Monday to watch what many called the “Great American Eclipse,” the first of its kind in nearly 40 years.

The Fresno State Henry Madden Library hosted Experience The 2017 Eclipse Across America, a solar eclipse viewing party along with a live stream of the eclipse from NASA.

David Drexler, digital initiatives librarian at the Henry Madden Library, said students could hang out in the library and watch the eclipse’s totality in parts of the country. “We only get a partial eclipse here,” Drexler said.

“People can sit and watch the totality,” said, “because we don’t get a total eclipse here. We only get a partial eclipse.”

Those attending the live stream cheered as they watched a total eclipse pass the sun. The live stream allowed the audience to see the total eclipse from many different locations across the United States.

“We had sort of a spontaneous gathering outside the front door,” Drexler said. A large crowd gathered outside of the library to witness the eclipse with the protection of special viewing glasses.

“The big thing about this eclipse is that it goes straight across North America and the U.S., and it has totaled in a lot of places.” Drexler said.

According to Drexler, the solar eclipse is an important event because it gives scientists a lot to study.

“When they have a total eclipse, they can see the corona of the sun,” Drexler said. “For the rest of us, we’re just doing this because it’s neat to watch.”

At the Engineering East building, students took photos of the eclipse with their phones. Some tore apart pairs of their glasses so their friends without glasses could view the eclipse.

Carter Dana, an electrical engineering student, said he came out to the Engineering East Building around 9 a.m. to watch the eclipse because he considered it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The university was handing out safety viewing glasses to watch the eclipse and although they went quickly, Dana said he was able to score a pair.

Cindy Wathen-Kennedy, public relations communications specialist at the library, said about 200 people attended the event.

Wathen-Kennedy said the solar eclipse is significant to her because it brings everyone together.

“It’s just nice to have something collectively we can all enjoy and feel good about,” Wathen-Kennedy said. “ [There’s] a lot of turmoil in our world right now, but everyone loves the eclipse. It’s just nice to see everyone so joyful and happy, and there’s nothing divisive about it.”