From left, Andy Fine, Molly Fine, Shrihan Agarwal and Juliet Crowell talk about science. (Chris Weber/H-F Chronicle)
Education, Local News

Eclipse viewing party thrills community despite poor weather

From left, Andy Fine, Molly Fine, Shrihan Agarwal and Juliet Crowell talk about science. (Chris Weber/H-F Chronicle)
From left, Andy Fine, Molly Fine, Shrihan Agarwal and Juliet Crowell talk about science. (Chris Weber/H-F Chronicle)

Thick clouds covered the sky, drizzling intermittently, but that didn’t stop an excited group of science fans from watching the eclipse on Saturday.

The watch party, hosted by the Homewood Public Library in partnership with the Homewood Science Center, was moved inside so everyone could view the eclipse. NASA streamed video of the rare event from a dry, less cloudy location. The party at the library also featured arts and crafts, games, prizes and astronomers with varying levels of expertise.

“I always like to look at the big picture of things,” said doctoral student Shrihan Agarwal.

Viewers getting ready for the eclipse show. (Chris Weber/H-F Chronicle)
Viewers getting ready for the eclipse show. (Chris Weber/H-F Chronicle)

Agarwal, a future astrophysicist, studies gravitational lensing. He accompanied Juliet Crowell, an education manager in the astronomy and astrophysics department at the University of Chicago. Her focus is mainly on the cosmic microwave background. Agarwal and Crowell encouraged kids at the event to create space themed artwork and answered questions about astronomy and astrophysics. The event was a perfect opportunity for the scientists to inspire young minds.

“I love doing this,” said Crowell. “This outreach sparks imagination and gets kids interested.”

One of the most mesmerizing celestial events is the eclipse, a rare occasion where the sun, moon, and Earth align. The eclipse viewing party at the library allowed people to see a “ring of fire.” For many, it was their first time seeing an eclipse.

The Homewood Science Center gave viewers prizes and raffled off a telescope, moon lamps and more. The viewing party was part of their STEM Saturday programming. The science center’s building is currently closed due to construction.

“We’re in an interim moment right now at the science center,” said STEM educator Dominique Barksdale. “We’re getting a new water system thanks to the Village of Homewood, so we’re closed for a few months. We’re doing events in the community, field trips and outreach at schools.”

The Homewood Science Center’s fall fundraiser is next Sunday. More information about Walk Walton can be found here

Saturday’s eclipse was annular. This type of eclipse occurs when the moon is farthest from the Earth. The outer perimeter of the sun is still visible during an annular eclipse. A total solar eclipse will occur next April. It will be visible in southern Illinois and Indiana.

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