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Iona Hosts Solar Eclipse Viewing Event

 Robert Novak, CFC, Ph.D.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY – On Monday, August 21, 2017, and for the first time in more than 38 years, the North American continent experienced one of the natural phenomena of our planet - a total eclipse of the sun. The last time the event occurred in the United States was on February 26, 1979. Though totality – when the moon completely blocks the sun – was not experienced in every part of the United States, it was a sight to be seen just the same.
The breathtaking occurrence coincided with Iona College’s Welcome Day, where students arrived for the new academic year. Robert Novak, CFC, Ph.D., chair of Iona’s Physics Department, held a viewing event for the College community to experience the eclipse together in what was described as a “half lawn party and half science lesson.” More than 200 students convened near the famed ginkgo tree and were given the opportunity to view the eclipse in three separate ways. Students were provided with specialized eclipse glasses used to look directly at the sun and see the moon’s path without damage to the eyes. David Zuckerman Ph.D., assistant professor of Biology, supplied pinhole cameras; simple devices used to help see the eclipse as well. Students were also able to look through a telescope with a solar filter, operated by Rhyana Amad, a physics major at Iona.
John Metaxas, adjunct professor of Mass Communication and WCBS-880AM news reporter, attended the event. He interviewed Br. Novak and reported live on the progress of the moon’s path across the sky with the crowd watching. Considering the history of solar eclipses, the Iona community was thrilled to be a part of such a newsworthy occurrence
“The event on campus turned out to be much larger than I expected,” said Br. Novak when asked his thoughts on the event. “Solar eclipses occur once or twice a year somewhere in the world, but they occur much less frequently in our part of the United States. It was the first solar eclipse able to be seen in the contiguous United States in more than 100 years. Fortunately, the next one for us will appear in April 2024, less than seven years from now.”
It seems to go without saying what a remarkable occurrence it was and an even better way to welcome back Iona’s students to kick-off the fall semester.