Solar Eclipse Attracts Hundreds to Fresno State’s Downing Planetarium

Community members enjoy the eclipse at Fresno State

Hundreds gathered outside Fresno State’s Downing Planetarium to witness a partial solar eclipse on Monday, April 8.

Dr. Steven White, a Fresno State physics professor and director of the Downing Planetarium, said almost 500 community members attended the historic event.

Solar eclipse create an image similar to a colander.
Solar eclipse create an image similar to a colander on the ground during Monday’s viewing.

White said after the eclipse, the public attended the shows, forcing them to add extra chairs around the theater dome to fit as many people as possible.

“We were able to accommodate everyone that wanted to see our program and we even added an additional one after the eclipse had concluded,” White said.

Members of the community were not the only ones excited about the eclipse.

“We had 100 third-grade students from Olmos Elementary in Fresno on their field trip to the planetarium that morning,” White said. “The planetarium was able to provide all of the children with the special eclipse glasses so that they could safely view the partial eclipse.”

Besides White, several Physics professors also educated the public. According to White, Physics professor Steve Harness operated the telescopes and answered questions about the sun and eclipses.

Eclipse mania spread all over the US, with some parts of the country experiencing a total eclipse after the moon positions itself between the earth and the sun.

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon completely covers the sun, as seen from earth. Fresno, however, was not in the line of totality and only experienced a partial eclipse.

“I think the highlight of the day was the tremendous response that we received from the public. I’m glad that we were able to share the eclipse with them,” White said.