Soundtrack and menu of the eclipse

Neil Bagadiong had a big assignment at Ivy Tech’s solar eclipse viewing party Monday in Columbus.

Bagadiong, who is the local college’s director of student life, development and leadership, was in charge of food and the soundtrack.

He was manning the table with eclipse-appropriate fare, including Moon Pies, Star Crunches and the ever-popular Sun Chips to the delight of Ivy Tech students, who were starting their first day of fall semester classes.

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“Dancing in the Moonlight” was among the songs Bagadiong had on the playlist, which also included “Fly Me to the Moon” and other celestial favorites.

While finding songs about the sun and the moon wasn’t difficult, Bagadiong was dismayed when ordering theme food. He discovered that no Moon Pies could be found prior anywhere in Columbus prior to Monday’s viewing party.

“I had to special-order them from Walmart,” he said. “I got like 10 dozen.”

Most of them were gone by the time the eclipse viewing was winding down around 3 p.m.

Ivy Tech officials said they handed out 225 pairs of solar eclipse viewing glasses within 30 minutes of the party’s 1 p.m. starting time.

A view from the experts

Although there was a lot of whimsy and fun at Ivy Tech Community College – Columbus’ viewing party, the college didn’t forget to have the science department represented.

Chris Volz, Ivy Tech science assistant professor, was circulating in the crowd answering questions and occasionally putting on a pair of glasses to catch a glimpse through the cloud cover.

“Bad weather — bad luck,” he said with a shrug as the Ivy Tech students attempted to watch through the clouds. “Occasionally you’re able to see it.”

Most of the questions he fielded had to do with why a solar eclipse is so rare, and how the moon can completely cover the sun during the eclipse.

A solar eclipse happens when the sun, earth and moon align with the moon moving directly beetween the sun and the earth. Monday’s eclipse was the first total solar eclipse viewable from the continental United States in 38 years. The last time a total eclipse crossed the U.S. from Pacific to Atlantic was June 8, 1918.

Most of the eclipses that happen hit the earth over water, which is why having one cross the United States is so unusual and spectacular, he said.

“I think this is the most viewed eclipse on the planet,” he said of Monday’s event. “It’s pretty cool if you can see it.”

Nearby, newly-named Ivy Tech Chancellor Steven Combs was watching the eclipse and mingling with students and staff as the eclipse progressed. He remarked how great it was to see the Ivy Tech community planning and gathering for the eclipse event and how much fun everyone was having.

A family affair

Family members of Lalit Ugale and Kumal Mankad, who both work as contractors for Cummins, crowded around Ugale as he attempted to photograph the eclipse on his cell phone at the Bartholomew County Public Library on Monday afternoon.

Ugale was using a pair of solar eclipse glasses over the cell phone camera and managed to capture several images of the eclipse, although cloud cover that was moving over the downtown area made catching a clear image difficult.

Library workers with pinhole box viewers were circulating among the estimated 500 people who attended the library’s viewing party, with people starting to line up to get a pair of the library’s viewing glasses at 9 a.m. Monday.

With a half dozen people from the Ugale and Mankad family at the viewing, they shared a pair of eclipse glasses among the group.

Nearby, Kelly Sprague was relaxing on a bright red “Pouch Couch” as her 2-year-old son Avram Sprague waited to look at the eclipse through the glasses that were fitted into paper plates to shield their faces.

“We just wanted to see the eclipse with a lot of people,” she said. “We wanted to be with the community.”

Dodging the clouds

Columbus photographer David Porter tucked his tripod into a corner of the Bartholomew County Library building and waited patiently for a break in the clouds.

He had photographed a lunar eclipse before, but this was his first time photographing a solar eclipse. Porter was using a special filter as he monitored the progress of Monday’s eclipse.

Porter said he didn’t have any special plans for the photos.

“I’ll just look at them at home,” he said.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.