Campus celebrates “totality” cool event

NTCC physics student Oscar Rodriguez places cameras against one of the viewing telescopes to capture snapshots of the eclipse. Students, faculty, staff and other visitors from the near community gathered on the main plaza to view and capture photos of the once in a lifetime phenomenon.

By Aiden Camp
Staff Writer

Deemed the Great North American Eclipse throughout the media, this week’s eclipse was the first total solar eclipse visible in North Texas since 1878. The event drew nearly 300 students, faculty, staff, and visitors throughout the afternoon to view the astronomical event from the main campus plaza. 

The viewing party, which offered a photo backdrop, games, music, viewing telescopes and solar eclipse glasses, was an effort between various campus organizations including SGA, PTK, Student Services, and the physics and engineering departments. 

Kaymon Farmer, director of student development & inclusion, said the goal of the watch party was to bring people together to show unity within the community. He said the crowd’s reaction was like an emotional roller coaster due to some of the cloud coverage.

“You could hear the ‘oohs’ and the ‘ahhs’ from the crowd, kind of like a sports game,” Farmer said. “Sometimes we had the momentum where we could see it and sometimes the clouds won the momentum.”

Prior to the eclipse party, Northeast Texas Community College Physics Instructor Mark Ellerman hosted an information session on viewing precautions and the scientific significance of the event. 

Though the event was a “once in a lifetime” occurrence, Ellerman said eclipses are not that infrequent. 

“Eclipses are not actually very rare,” Ellerman said. “There is a solar eclipse once every two years somewhere on the planet.” 

Ellerman said it depends on where you live. He added that the rarity is where it happens.  

While this is the third eclipse visible from Texas in the past seven years, this was the first total solar eclipse visible in Texas for more than a century. 

These events generate a wide following. People will travel from all over to view the eclipse and in fact many hotels from Dallas to Texarkana were fully booked for the event. 

While Ellerman said eclipses are a “mathematical inevitability” that typically occur every two years this was an event to remember and it happened right on NTCC’s doorstep. 

While the next full solar eclipse is expected to take place in 2026, this part of the world will not be in the path of totality. Those who missed this week’s spectacle, or for eclipse chasers, will have to travel overseas where the path includes parts of Spain, Greenland and Iceland among other small parts of the globe.