Thousands throng to catch eclipse at Rowan

Thousands throng to catch eclipse at Rowan

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Event attracts 10,000 to 12,000
Offered activities for all ages

Make no mistake, Emily Kogut was hot.

The 12-year-old from Lewes, Delaware, arrived with her grandmother, sister and cousin at Rowan University for the Solar Eclipse Viewing Party around 9 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 21, snagging the first spot in one of maybe eight lines threading toward the Ric and Jean Edelman Planetarium in Science Hall.

By noonish, the soon-to-be-partially-blocked summer sun had taken a bit of a toll, but not a total one: she still was eager to don special glasses and view the sun as the moon was set to cover about three-quarters of it later in the afternoon. “I am very excited because it’s going to be my first eclipse,” she said. “I’m a nerd. I like stuff like this.”

She wasn’t alone in her excitement. By best estimate, 10,000 to 12,000 men, women and children converged on campus for an afternoon crammed with activities and goodies: bags that included the glasses necessary to safely see the sun, feeds from NASA shown in a classroom, a free planetarium show about eclipses called "Totality," views through telescopes set up on the lawn of Science Hall, a chance to create a pocket solar system and make a planisphere, an opportunity to make an eclipse button, free water ice, games and more.

“I am overwhelmed by the support and excitement of everyone who came to watch the eclipse with us,” said Amy Barraclough, director of the planetarium. “I can't wait until the 2024 eclipse.”

The day, which was sponsored by the planetarium and the College of Science & Mathematics and supported by the Borough of Glassboro and the Glassboro branch of the Gloucester County Library System, drew seas of people from throughout the region. Moms with babies slung across their chests and toddlers in tow, Rowan faculty and administrators in suits and ties, Boy Scout troops, families and others gathered on all paths leading to Science Hall, in the building and on the lawns.

Kalli Pearlman, 5½, of Haddon Township, said her favorite thing in the whole world was to watch the eclipse. “Because it’s kind of like nighttime and I’m waiting for a nap and it’s naptime.” She said she enjoyed looking at the sky through a telescope.

The enthusiastic turnout meant some visitors didn’t get a chance to obtain glasses. And that propelled some Rowan employees, including Dr. Suzanne Bausch, associate dean for Research and Graduate Affairs in the College of Science & Mathematics, into action. She criss-crossed the patio behind Science Hall offering a film for people to use to view the phenomenon.

Cathy Appert, a visitor from Robbinsville, New Jersey, who attended with four family members, did the same. She offered her lenses to several people, including a Rowan Public Safety officer she had seen earlier. “I thought (the eclipse) was remarkable,” she said. “I thought, 'Oh my gosh nobody should miss this.’”