Photos: Chasing Totality, Solar Eclipse Gathers Community

Groups of students stand to the right of the Honors Conservatory at the peak totality of the eclipse. Eclipse glasses were provided for free by the college (Photos by Bella Bakeman).

On April 8, students, faculty, staff and community members gathered on Albion College’s quad and the roof of Palenske Hall to view the Solar Eclipse, which last occurred in Aug. of 2017. With much of Michigan on the cusp of totality, the physics department organized viewing spaces for the campus and community.

Physics Professor and Department Chair Nicolle Zellner helped organize the eclipse viewings and helped viewers understand what they would see. 

“When the disc of the sun is blocked out, you can actually see the solar corona – which is a very high energy region of the sun that is not normally visible,” Zellner said. “You can only see the solar corona in areas with full totality, which will come out in big waves around the shadow of the moon over the face of the sun.”

According to NASA, the path of totality stretched diagonally across North America, with the closest totality area to Albion being Cleveland. 

“We (had) around 97-98% coverage in Albion,” Zellner said. “The disk of the sun (was) covered for about two minutes and the sky (became) darkish, kind of a purple-gray color.”

The physics department provided eclipse glasses for regular viewing on the roof and the quad, as well as multiple telescopes to see the moon move in front of the sun.

The rooftop telescopes on Palenske Hall were monitored by student volunteers earning their STEM engagement badges.Hancock first-year Bailee Shankleton was one of the students helping onlookers use the telescopes.

“Nicolle Zellner trained us,” Shankleton said, adding that Zellner “instructed us on how to take the protective covers off of the telescopes, put a filter on them similar to the glasses we use and align the scope with the sun.”

Zellner taught the students how to accurately apply the filters so that they “block out about 99% of the sun’s radiation” to allow viewers to “look safely at the sun.”

Albion saw the start of the eclipse at 1:55 p.m., reaching a maximum totality of about 97% at 3:11 p.m., lasting just over a minute. At 3:10 p.m., just before maximum totality, viewers on the quad clapped in excitement.

According to USA Today, if you missed this eclipse, the next solar eclipse will not occur until Aug. 23, 2044, and will only cross over Montana and North and South Dakota

The eclipse at almost full totality visible from the quad (Photo courtesy of Bryn Osborne).
Groups of students stand to the right of the Honors Conservatory at the peak totality of the eclipse. Eclipse glasses were provided for free by the college (Photos by Bella Bakeman).
A grandma and grandson observe the eclipse after totality on Palenske’s roof (Photo by Katherine Simpkins).
Kalamazoo junior Kearney Miller smiles at the eclipse at it’s middle crescent (Photo by Bella Bakeman).
A student attempts to take a photo of the eclipse through eclipse glasses on Palenske’s roof beside a telescope (Photo by Katherine Simpkins).
Three students look up at the beginning of the eclipse with smiles on their faces (Photo by Bella Bakeman).

Professors past and present view the eclipse on Albion’s quad (Photos by Bella Bakeman).
Albion college students and Albion community members gather on the quad to watch the eclipse (Photo by Bella Bakeman).
A community member’s bull dog walks along the quad before the eclipse began (Photo by Bella Bakeman).
Student squints in an attempt to glimpse the photo eclipse (Photo by Bella Bakeman).
Students stand atop Palenske’s roof looking at the solar eclipse through glasses (Photo by Katherine Simpkins).

Lindsay Ratcliffe also contributed reporting to this story.

About Katherine Simpkins 26 Articles
Katherine Simpkins, aka "Kat", is a senior from Adrian, MI. She is majoring in Sociology and minoring in Educational Studies. Her passion for journalism started at an early age when she picked up her camera and started seeing life from a different perspective. In her free time, you can find Kat snuggled up next to her cat, Phoebe; named after the best "Friends" character. You can contact her at

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