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Attendees Dazzled by ‘Totality Over Commerce’

Image by Matt Strasen, Tyler Holloway and Denay Boyd, A&M-Commerce Marketing and Communications.

 

COMMERCE, TEXAS—On April 8, 2024, a large crowd witnessed the experience of a lifetime as they gathered at Memorial Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M University-Commerce for the “Totality Over Commerce” Total Solar Eclipse watch party.

Open to the public, the event saw A&M-Commerce students, faculty, staff, and members of the public convene for the astronomical event that blazed a trail across the United States from Texas to Maine. The Spanish-language television network Univision was on hand to broadcast live from the stadium as part of their eclipse coverage.

Attendees received free eclipse-viewing glasses and were shown live eclipse views on the stadium’s digital scoreboard via a telescope. While cloud cover threatened the viewing experience in the morning, the clouds began to break in the early afternoon, providing excellent views of the moon’s transit across the sun’s disc.

Dr. Kurtis Williams, associate professor and interim head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at A&M-Commerce, served as the emcee for the event. Williams provided eclipse watchers with valuable scientific information about what they were witnessing. The event was also staffed by dozens of A&M-Commerce student volunteers, including students from the university’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students.

The big moment arrived just a few seconds after 1:42 pm local time when the sun became fully obscured by the moon, and attendees were able to remove their eclipse glasses and view the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle. The sky grew dark, temperatures dropped, and a 360-degree sunset was visible during the four-plus minutes of totality. A great cheer erupted from the crowd as the moment unfolded.

The next total solar eclipse viewable from the contiguous United States will occur in 2044, followed by another in 2045. The city of Commerce, Texas, won’t see another total solar eclipse until July 9, 2317.