Members of the public made an overwhelming turnout to view the solar eclipse at the University of The West Indies (UWI) today. UWI Star Gazers hosted a public viewing at the JFK Quadrangle and very pleasantly surprised by how many persons attended the event.
President of the club, Ariel Chitan stated, “We never expected this much people so at the moment we don’t even have enough equipment for everyone.” She added that the club provided four telescopes, which resulted in long lines of patrons hoping to see the crescent shaped portion of the sun left uncovered by the moon. They also ordered 100 solar eclipse glasses which was not enough for the crowd of over 300. Chitan said, “I wish we could have provided more glasses, telescopes and even better facilities for everyone who came out today.”
She called on citizens to appreciate the beauty of astronomy, even when a big event such as the eclipse is not taking place. “We all have an innate interest, persons just have to go outside and look at the sky.” She added that the proper facilities would also be necessary.
Public Relations Officer Matthew Tung stated, “While it is true that many only become interested when events like these take place, astronomy is much like art, to appreciate it you have to get the knowledge about it.” He stated that the aim of the viewing is to invite members of the public to view, learn and continue pursuing astronomy as a hobby. “UWI Stargazers are open to the public, we have monthly meetings, after which we have star viewing with the telescope,” Chitan said.
While awaiting their turn to view the eclipse through the telescope, patrons exchanged solar eclipse glasses and looked through handmade pinhole cameras. Chitan stated that she was pleased to see members of the public taking the health of their eyes seriously as their heeded warning and took the necessary precautions.