Princeton, New Jersey, August 30, 2017. On Monday, August 21, 2017, the Department of Astrophysical Sciences in partnership with the Princeton Public Library held a public viewing party to watch the solar eclipse. While in Princeton only a partial eclipse was visible, with 73% of the Sun obscured at maximum, public interest in viewing the eclipse was still very high. Thousands of spectators gathered in Palmer Square in downtown Princeton to view the event. Despite crowded conditions, the overall atmosphere was one of excitement and wonder as people from all walks of life gathered under a mostly clear sky. Eclipse glasses donated by the American Astronomical Society were distributed for free. Faculty, researchers, and students from the Department were on hand to explain the eclipse, to demonstrate the vast distances between objects in the solar system using scale models, and to introduce people of all ages to the wonders of space using images, demonstrations, and fun games. Several members of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Princeton were also on hand, bringing their own telescopes with solar filters to give the public a more detailed look at the vanishing sun. The event was an enormous success, and a wonderful example of town-gown cooperation. Special thanks to Fred Moolekamp of the Department of Astrophysical Sciences, and Kelsey Ockert and Janie Hermann of the Princeton Public Library for leading the organization of the event.
If they were not at the event in Palmer Square, many members of the Department had instead traveled to locations around the country to view the narrow path of totality. If you missed the eclipse this year, don't despair. In only seven years, in April, 2024, another total solar eclipse will cross the United States, travelling from Texas through Maine. Put in for your time off now.