Earlier this week, the UGA community had an opportunity to view the eclipse from a perspective that will go down in the history books. More than 20,000 students, faculty, staff and community members showed up to Sanford Stadium to witness the eclipse, alongside the helpful educational guidance of event organizers from our very own department of geography and atmospheric sciences program. While Athens was not in the path of totality, the event served as a once in a lifetime opportunity for all that were there. Normally the memories associated with times in Sanford Stadium revolve around great football plays and the momentous occasion of commencement, but witnessing the awe-inspiring phenomenon alongside the rest of the UGA community on Tuesday will surely be one for the books. Anticipation for the peak of the event coincided with eclipse-related trivia and music. At the peak of the event, when the moon covered 99.1. percent of the sun, you'd have thought that UGA had just scored a winning touchdown as the stadium erupted into cheers.
In the days prior to the event, our UGA event drew attention from national, regional and local news outlets alike and Dr. Knox and Dr. Shepherd were busy giving interviews and educating the public about the science of eclipses and the importance of safety. UGA's event even made it to the front page of the New York Times Tuesday morning.
The event was a testament to the great things that can happen when the UGA community works together. Working alongside faculty members were the UGA Athletic Association who made sure that the logistics of the facility were taken care of and volunteers working concessions from the Student Government Association. Other UGA community members--including UGA President Jere Morehead and Provost Pamela Whitten--were there to marvel at sight as well. As the Athens Banner-Herald notes:
UGA President Jere Morehead described the event as “the largest classroom we have ever had.”
“We strive every day to make a memorable learning experience for our students,” said UGA Provost Pamela Whitten while addressing the crowd. “This will rank up there as one of those days that you remember.”
Students and professors took a break from classes to attend the event, while others took time off from work and checked children out of school to do the same.
“I’m a freshman, so I’ve never been to a school that’s done something like this,” said UGA student Yesha Patel. “I skipped a class for this, but it was worth it.”
For other first-year students, seeing Sanford Stadium filled with so many people was an experience in itself.
“It’s awesome to see Sanford like this for the first time, with so many people in it,” said Evan Kelley. “This is a great experience — the eclipse, the stadium, all of it.”
For alumni, it was all about returning to UGA.
“I love Athens, and I love coming back to Sanford Stadium,” said UGA graduate Cody McCance. “I knew the eclipse would be close to 100 percent here, and I knew watching it from the stadium just adds to a cool event.”
As a double dawg at the University of Georgia, and a science communicator for Franklin College, the event is certainly one that I will remember for a lifetime. Here at Franklin College, many of our faculty and staff members enjoyed the opportunity to view the event together. We are all thankful to be part of a community that works together to create unique educational opportunities each and every day. Tuesday's eclipse event was no different, but we would be remiss not to thank the department of geography faculty members for all of their hard work, alongside other event coordinators. Congratulations on putting together an educational event that will be remembered for years to come.
Want to relive the experience? Check out this UGA video that highlights the experience of Tuesday's event at the stadium. Enjoy!
-Written and reported by Jessica Luton, a PR specialist with the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.