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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

COLUMN: Eclipse unity: An experience beyond the celestial spectacle

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With Bloomington being the epicenter of the solar eclipse, the hype surrounding the event was unreal and evident in the preparation preceding the event. IU gave out free eclipse glasses to encourage safe viewing. The university also planned many events with celebrities like Janelle Monáe and William Shatner performing at the Hoosier Cosmic celebration.  

I chose to venture off-campus to the WonderLab Science Museum, where a street party was in full swing. For me, this presented a break from a recurring audience of college students to community members and local families. WonderLab is a science museum that caters to kids of all ages and focuses on active learning.  

After a quick conversation with the organizers, I learned this event had been two years in the making. Supported by the “In the Path of Totality” Initiative of the Simons Foundation, private spaces of the museum were made available for free for people to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon together.  

WonderLab had multiple stalls at the party selling and recycling solar eclipse glasses. One stall that caught my eye was where children could make decorative masks for their solar eclipse glasses. This revived the kid in me, and I made one which was a sorry attempt at mimicking the Spider-Man mask. The stall hosts emphasized this activity that worked on two levels: highlighting the importance of solar eclipse glasses, but also doing fun activities like encouraging making masks.  

After having spent a while exploring the event, I spoke to a local family who was very enthusiastic about the event. They had even brought a telescope with them. I was honored to be invited to their watch party.  

Anticipation grew as the clock hit 3 p.m. I wore my solar eclipse glasses and pointed my phone toward the sun as all of us were looking in one direction. As soon as the 10-second countdown to the solar eclipse ended darkness ensued in Bloomington. I removed the complete darkness of my solar eclipse glasses; I saw one of the most spectacular sites nature had to offer: a total solar eclipse. A small ring of light lit behind the darkness of the moon outlining its circumference. I had the privilege to see this sight up close through a telescope, where I could see the subtle movement of the Sun’s corona outlining the moon. The beauty of the phenomenon is not only in the aesthetics of it but also in the emotional response it evoked in me.  

The solar eclipse presented me with a realization of the wonders that our universe entails and how small we as humans are in the grand scheme of things. Nature has a great power to unite people through beauty. It represents a lesson for us humans to look for beauty in the world, to look for beauty that has the power to unite us all.  

As a first-time viewer of a total solar eclipse, I was not only amazed by the beauty of this magnificent phenomenon, but also hit with a realization that there is life beyond college. The organizers I met who have been planning this event for the last two years, the family who very kindly let me use their telescope to view the eclipse — all these people were not college students but local Bloomington residents. Living in a college town blinded me to a limited understanding of this beautiful city. There is more to Bloomington than just being home to Indiana University — it is also home to a vibrant community that should not be overlooked.  

Advait (he/they) is a freshman studying economics and sociology.  

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