“I read that this eclipse has been called ‘the biggest outdoor spectator event in American history,’” said Sasha Lukina, a student in USD’s physics department. “Although our eclipse in Vermillion is partial, it is still a chance to be a part of something truly grand and rare.”

With support from the NASA Partner Ambassador Program and the South Dakota Space Grant, Physics Club and Student Services have partnered together and organized several events around the rare total eclipse.   

The main eclipse-viewing event is set for 1:30-2:30 p.m. on April 8 on the Muenster University Center lawn. The peak time, when the largest part of the sun will be covered, is 1:55 p.m. The physics department will provide free eclipse viewing glasses for attendees to safely observe the event, as well as space-themed snacks.

Lukina is leading the charge on the eclipse events after being selected as South Dakota’s student ambassador for the NASA Partner Eclipse Ambassador program. When joining the eclipse ambassador program, she was encouraged to not only engage with the public, but also to try to include groups that are historically underrepresented in astronomy.

So, Lukina, an active member of Physics Club, reached out to Student Services to discuss how the two entities could collaborate in organizing a campus-wide eclipse-viewing event.

“This turned out to be a wonderful collaboration since each organization has its own strengths and skills,” said Lukina. “Physics Club students know the most about the science of the eclipse and are interested in trying to share information and get people excited about science. Student Services faculty and staff are experts in student engagement and know different strategies and tools for organizing large events, promoting students and finding funds and resources on campus.

“It's great to see that so many different people and organizations are excited about the eclipse and decided to work together to get our community involved,” she continued.

In addition to the viewing event, there will be an eclipse informational session for students, faculty and staff, and community members on April 4 in the MUC from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (second floor) and from 4:30-5:30 p.m. (MUC Pit). Physics Club students will be present to share information about the eclipse through demonstration materials and activities.

“It’s a chance to be curious and take a moment to think about science and ask questions,” said Lukina. “It’s also a great opportunity for informal learning, and we are hoping to help participants find answers to their questions and relate to the eclipse at our events.”

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