The main event on August 21, 2017, was not the start of the fall semester at the College of Optometry, but the remarkable solar eclipse. Faculty members adjusted afternoon labs so students could watch the show in the sky. Some students joined faculty and staff outside of the new Patient Care Center on campus to gaze (safely) at the sun.
The PCC lobby was brightened by a smiling sun balloon and trays of cookies. It proved to be a busy spot, as students and members of the public stopped by all morning to pick up free eclipse glasses. As the shadow blocking the sun grew, so did the group watching outside the PCC entrance. The clouds stayed away, and observers took note of the other effects of the eclipse. They noticed the insects chirping, the barn swallows swooping, and the street lights blinking on. A few caught a glimpse of shadowy “waves” rippling along the sidewalk. And though UMSL was not in path of totality, viewers were treated to a beautiful change in the sky at the horizon. As the main event passed and the crowd left to head back to classrooms and offices, those walking under trees could see the crescent-shaped shadows projected on the ground from the leaves.
It was a memorable first day of classes, and those not wanting to keep their eclipse glasses as a souvenir turned them in to a collection bin. The glasses will be sent to an organization who will distribute them in South America and Africa to view future eclipses.