Yellow Jacket Park was full of moon-gazers this Wednesday night as people turned out to watch the last total lunar eclipse of the decade (the next one is in 2010). The eclipse began at 8:43 p.m. and reached totality at 10:01 p.m. By then well over 100 people had gathered in the park to observe the red-tinted moon. Some came toting their own telescopes and binoculars while others wandered by after seeing the crowd.
Bhavna Kumar, an Electrical Engineering graduate student, stayed on campus especially to watch the eclipse. “I talked to some people from the Astronomy Club and they said they would have telescopes set up here tonight. I knew I couldn’t see this from home, so I decided to come and check it out. The view through the telescopes is pretty awesome. You can even see the craters on the surface of the moon,” she said.
The Astronomy Club publicized the event with chalking last week but was surprised by the turnout.
“We just brought our telescopes out to watch the eclipse. We’re actually surprised at the large number of people that have come,” said Jenny Rome, a fifth-year Aerospace Engineering major and president of the Astronomy Club.
Club treasurer Kenneth Kinion was on hand to pour hot chocolate for the eclipse enthusiasts and to answer questions about it.
“We were worried at first about how visible the eclipse would be since there were so many clouds, but it turned out well. It’s great because you can see Saturn too—it’s just to the lower left of the moon. Some people have told me they can see its rings,” he said.
The celestial spectacle also attracted a few off-campus visitors. Dave Lumpkin, a Tech graduate who stays involved with the Astronomy Club, brought along his friend Dan Llewellyn, owner of the store Telescope Atlanta. Both arrived with their own high-powered telescopes and were happy to offer students a look through them.
A sizable crowd was still milling about the park when the eclipse ended around 10:50 p.m. “The real story here is how social people are being, even more so than at parties,” said Josh Beavers, an Electrical Engineering graduate student.