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UNT Hosts Celebratory Events for Rare Solar Eclipse

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In a historic celestial event that captivated millions across the nation, the University of North Texas (UNT) played host to gatherings at its Denton campus and UNT at Frisco location, allowing students, faculty, and visitors to witness the awe-inspiring solar eclipse. The university’s events coincided with nationwide observations of the eclipse, drawing crowds eager to experience the rare phenomenon.

At the Denton campus, including the main grounds and Discovery Park, attendees enjoyed near-totality views, with the eclipse covering 99% of the sun. Ryan Bennett, director of UNT’s astronomy education program and the emcee at the UNT at Frisco event, expressed his delight at the turnout. “It’s heartwarming to see such enthusiasm for science and community,” Bennett said, noting that some attendees had traveled from other states to witness the event.

The celebrations took on a festive atmosphere, with students lounging on blankets, enjoying food, and listening to thematic music on the University Union South Lawn. The event, sponsored by the University Program Council, saw students distributing glasses for safe eclipse viewing, emphasizing the community spirit of the occasion.

Discovery Park featured a laid-back picnic environment, where students gathered to watch the eclipse while enjoying themed snacks. Autumn Erwin, a data science major, praised the university for providing safe viewing glasses, especially after discovering her own were counterfeit.

Meanwhile, UNT at Frisco offered a prime viewing spot for 100% totality, enriching the experience with jazz music, eclipse trivia, poetry readings, and crafts. The highlight came when twilight descended during totality, eliciting cheers from the crowd as the Frisco Landing building’s tower lit up the darkened sky. “It was an amazing sight,” remarked Arianna Michaud, a junior at UNT, captivated by the sun’s beams visible around the moon’s silhouette.

Adding a scientific dimension to the event, a team from Pennsylvania State University and Lincoln University launched a weather balloon as part of the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project, aiming to study atmospheric changes during the eclipse. The project underscored the eclipse’s significance for both scientific study and public engagement.

With the next solar eclipse visible in the continental U.S. not expected until 2044, and Texas facing a more than two-century wait for another, this eclipse was heralded as a once-in-a-lifetime event. Carol Foley, a Denton resident and member of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNT, reflected on the deeper meaning of the eclipse. “For many, it’s a spiritual experience, offering perspective on life’s grandeur,” she said.

The university’s successful hosting of the eclipse viewing events underscored its commitment to fostering a sense of community and curiosity among students and residents alike, marking a memorable day in UNT’s history.

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