It’s 1982. Ronald Reagan is America’s newly elected commander-in-chief, Joe Montana has just won his first Super Bowl and a copy of the New York Times cost 30 cents. It was that same year which saw a rare phenomenon that reoccurred Sunday, September 27th: a super moon lunar eclipse.
Atmospheric science major and telescope enthusiast, Chris Stubenrauch saw an opportunity in this eclipse. So he created a Facebook event page appropriately titled “Supermoon Lunar Eclipse.”.Although the process was a bit bumpy, it was a huge success.
“The goal of this program is to give students something to smile about and promote weekend life here,” Stubenrauch said while busily organizing the hordes of students arriving to his event. “Sometimes the weekends here can get a little lonely, and I wanted to change that this weekend.” He was successful in that, having close to 500 total participants gather on a chilly Sunday night at the campus recreation fields.
Early in the process of getting the event off the ground, Stubenrauch encountered a major hurdle, as university officials told him that he could not host the event because of the mass number of people moving from one spot to another, creating a safety issue, which would have effectively cancelled the event.Chris persisted and contacted Jeff Barnett, the Associate Dean of Students and many other prestigious faculty.
Stubenrauch was then granted permission to run the program as scheduled, with a team of Residential Safety Program members and C-Cert present to insure student safety. A fire marshal and police officer were also present.
Trekking from H-Quad to the recreation fields was the major concern of the University, especially for a student run event that crosses a major road. Witnessing the mass pilgrimage of 500 students down a path four shoulder-widths wide might sound daunting and troublesome, but the crowd was calm and collected, which made RSP’s job much easier.
Most students attending the event were drawn in by the unusual nature of the event, and others were simply supporting their friend.
“I’m intrigued about what a full lunar eclipse looks like, because I’ve never actually seen one before,” Zachary Kummer, a sophomore, said of the event. With Zachary was Spencer Flash, a freshman engineering major and friend of the event’s host. “I thought this would be a great chance to witness a cool event. It’s exciting to be here with all my friends and I know Chris went through a lot to get this to happen.”
Once everyone arrived at the recreation fields, some basic information about the eclipse was divulged by Stubenrauch. A lunar eclipse only occurs when the Earth is placed directly between the Sun and the moon, blocking all direct light and making the moon appear a reddish hue as a result of light bending around the Earth. Making this eclipse even more special was the moon being the closest in its orbit of the Earth at any given point, which made it appear up to six percent larger than usual.
Some people chose to wait in line to take a look through Chris’ behemoth Orion SkyQuest X10i Intelliscope Dobsonian Telescope, which provided an unparalleled view of the occurrence. Others placed down blankets to sit with friends or by themselves and watch the Earth’s shadow slowly traverse the moon’s pasty surface. At precisely 10:11pm the moon turned a dark red and stayed that way for over an hour, appearing almost like Mars had travelled 140 million miles to sit right next to Earth. The eclipse passed at around 11:23pm.
Matt Dzamko, a student and member of C-Cert, elaborated on his position at the event, “C-Cert is the Campus Community Emergency Response Team, essentially in place to help fire marshals and UPD.” When asked about how he felt the event went, Dzamko was impressed with the tranquility of the large group. “Overall it was extremely well orchestrated, everyone was really calm and organized.”