Oberlin Blogs

Total Oclipse of the Heart

April 9, 2024

Julia Xu '27

I’m sure I won’t be the only blogger with thoughts on the solar eclipse, but I’ll have the best. I woke up today at 1 PM in a panic, thinking I wouldn’t have time to get to my 1:30 PM class, only to remember it was canceled. I snoozed for another half hour until I realized my class was canceled because today was the eclipse!!, so I woke up in a panic for a second time, thinking I wouldn’t have enough time to get ready and pick up eclipse glasses from the football field (Bailey Field, where Oclipse was being held) and grab some viewing snacks and meet my friends in Wilder Bowl before totality at 3:13 PM.

(Don't worry, I did.)

2:00 PM

The eclipse in the Oberlin area begins at 1:59 PM, but I ended up leaving my room a little past 2 after getting caught up deciding which pair of jorts to break out on this lovely 72-degree afternoon. Luckily, my dorm (Barrows) is pretty far down North Campus, where all the athletics complexes are, and since I left late, most people were already at the field, so I didn’t have to worry about crowds.

I ended up in a line of people at the front of the field who all seemed unsure of what they were waiting for. I tried asking the couple from town in front of me, but they were equally as confused. However, the lovely woman pulled out a bundle of viewing glasses from her purse and gave me and the people behind me a few while we were waiting. (And I’ll be forever indebted because I think the Oclipse booths ran out.)

The line ended up being for free T-shirts and tote bags (the former had run out of my size, but the latter I snagged two of, with two different designs), and there was a booth to the right with eclipse-themed snacks that I also grabbed a few of—black and white cookies, except the white frosting was in the shape of a crescent moon, some cake pops, and “eclipse elixir,” which was sparkling lemonade with glitter.

2:30 PM

I was a little tempted to stay at Bailey and listen to the narration that our Observatory and Planetarium director would be doing, but according to my friends, there were fewer people at Wilder and no trees (plus they had bought raspberries, my favorite!!). So there I was, rushing in the opposite direction with a tote bag full of tote bags, snacks, sunscreen, and my water bottle, with eclipse elixir in one hand and my phone in the other, texting my ETA with one thumb.

I finished my elixir on the way, tossed it in the trash outside the Science Library, and then FaceTimed my friend because I’m notoriously bad at spotting people. I was scanning the grass, kind of embarrassed to be standing in the middle of the path, and they were directly in front of me, waving, maybe 30 feet away. (I don’t know; I have a really bad sense of distance.) Awk!

2:45 PM
A container of strawberries and raspberries and an "eclipse" themed cookie on top of a blue backpack in the grass at Wilder Bowl.
Our setup (feat. my friend's backpack) in Wilder Bowl.
Photo credit: me!

We were getting a bit antsy, occasionally looking up at the sky (through our glasses, of course) between bites of raspberry and cookie. We people-watched for a bit, made fun of amusedly pointed out the way that toddlers walk, and talked about what we were going to do immediately after this (the options were: go to the library and do work, go to our room to do work, or stay outside for a little longer before finding a place to do work).

If there’s one complaint I have about today, it’s that I’m not exempt from my other responsibilities. I’ve actually got an evening class in 22 minutes (at the time I’m writing this). College student life waits for no one, I fear. Sigh.

3:00 PM

I finished the raspberries, and I really wanted to go back to my room and get the big bag of animal crackers that I’d been singlehandedly working my way through in the past few days. By now, it was getting “darker” and chillier, so it’s a good thing I brought a hoodie too. I put darker in quotes because, to me, it was more like looking through a dirty camera lens with all the colors thrown off.

My friends had some mixed descriptions: one went with “desaturated,” and the other went with “the world looks like it had a wet towel thrown over it.” (Even now, I’m not quite sure what the wet towel description means.)

At this point, we were arguing over whether to sit or stand. My “desaturated” friend was very excited about the waning sun and couldn’t help but stand up and get “closer to the moon.” My “wet towel” friend was a proponent of us all sitting down. Me? I was preoccupied with eating one last raspberry as fast as I could so I didn’t miss seeing the transition to totality.

3:13 PM

After a lot of anticipation and exclamations of “X minutes left until totality!” and “Oh my god, look how thin it’s getting!” and “The sun is on Ozempic!” (the last comment courtesy of my wet-towel friend), the moon finally made its way in front of the sun. It sounds kind of anti-climactic when I write it like that, but the experience was more than just looking at the sun. At peak totality, I was full-on shivering, and at 3 PM, it was darker out than during my walk to my evening class. You could even see the stars! 

3:30 PM

As it began to brighten up, I packed up my belongings, said goodbye to my friends, and headed back to my room to do, of all things, some homework before I left for a planning committee meeting at 5 (for SOSHA's annual Denim Day, check us out on Instagram!). On the plus side, I finally got to those animal crackers I had been craving!

Photo of solar eclipse at totality,
Photo credit: Ma'ayan Kertcher.

I texted my parents: apparently, my mom was distracted by something because she missed the peak of the eclipse in Connecticut, but my sister managed to get some pretty good pictures. Another friend texted me a picture his girlfriend had taken, and I swear she must’ve had some telescope attachment to her phone because there’s no way my photography skills are that bad… right?

My teacher (from the evening class I was talking about) said she had initially planned to hide away indoors to protect her eyes, not realizing there were special viewing glasses available. Thankfully, someone intervened, and she was able to observe the eclipse from her window. My therapist, on the other hand, had no glasses and had to look out the window at the sun from her peripheral vision.

All in all, I have to consider myself lucky to have been in Ohio with access to viewing glasses during a solar eclipse. Who knows if I’ll ever get the chance to see an eclipse in totality again?


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