Faculty, students and neighbors view eclipse at Moraine Valley

  • Written by Kelly White


moraine eclipse viewing photo 8-24

Photo by Kelly White

More than 2,000 students, faculty, staff and curious community members gathered throughout the day to view the solar eclipse at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills on Monday afternoon.


The faculty at Moraine Valley Community College did not want anyone to miss out on the solar eclipse on Monday afternoon.

More than 2,000 students, faculty, staff and curious community members gathered throughout the day to view the solar eclipse on campus at 9000 W. College Parkway, Palos Hills. A solar eclipse is a type of eclipse that occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, and when the moon fully or partially blocks the sun.

“I like it because the college made it an event where everyone can be together,” said Moraine Valley student Fiona Agapito, 19, of Oak Lawn.

“All of our professors were really cool about including this in part of our first day of classes,” said Salam Mulhem, 18, of Oak Lawn.

On Monday afternoon, 87 percent of the solar eclipse was viewable from Moraine Valley’s campus, even with the cloudy skies, with the high point of the eclipse displaying at about 1:19 p.m.

“The solar eclipse is one of those momentous moments in life where everyone will remember where they were at that exact moment,” said Peter Placas, Moraine Valley adjunct science professor and lab technician. “There are important moments like this all throughout history, like when Martin Luther King Jr. died, for example. Everyone can tell you where they were or what they were doing at that exact time.”

Placas, an adjunct science professor at the college for seven years, was responsible for organizing the event. He, along with other Moraine Valley faculty members, met with individuals on the grassy commons area between the G and U buildings on campus to view the solar eclipse through protective specially made glasses.

The college purchased 500 pairs of the protective glasses online at through the Moraine Valley’s purchasing department. As attendees came and went throughout the afternoon, the 500 pairs of glasses were shared so everyone had a chance to view the eclipse with his or her own eyes. Placas reminded the crowd to only view the eclipse through the protective glasses as a safety precaution.

“It’s always dangerous to look directly at the sun and the solar eclipse is no different,” Placas said. “There is not necessarily a heightened sense of damage that can occur to your eyes than if you were to look at the sun any other day. With the eclipse, however, our natural impulses sometimes get the best of us and we tend to look directly at the sun.”

Placas hopes the eclipse helps to grow an interest in the science world. He described the eclipse as a sociological factor.

“Events like this really bring science to the forefront,” Placas said. “It will expose individuals, adults, teenagers and children alike, to thinking about science and possible science-related careers. It helps to understand how the natural order of life actually functions.”

Attendees felt the same way as Placas, including Ben Solecki, 13.

“I think it’s so cool that I’m able to watch this on Moraine Valley’s campus,” said Solecki, of Chicago Ridge. “Moraine is where I plan to attend college. It’s a great campus that has so much to offer.”

The last time a total solar eclipse was visible across the entire contiguous United States was during the June 8, 1918 eclipse, and not since the February 1979 eclipse has a total eclipse been visible from anywhere in the mainland U.S.