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It was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and the total solar eclipse did not disappoint! For 3 minutes and 10.9 seconds, SUNY Potsdam was blanketed with darkness as a ring of sunlight formed around the moon's edge during totality on Monday, April 8, 2024.

Special educational activities for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the wider community continued throughout the afternoon as the moon slowly passed before the sun, culminating with the total solar eclipse! 

“We were excited to have a front-row seat to one of the most incredible sights the North Country has ever seen. SUNY Potsdam was thrilled to create a communal viewing experience for all to enjoy, and we were excited to share educational activities for our campus and community to mark this special occasion."

Dr. Page Quinton Event organizer and associate professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

In addition to students, faculty, staff, and alumni congregating at Marshall Park and the Academic Quad for the spectacle, people from all over the country came to witness the event, including Hannah Mechtenberg, a graduate student from the University of Connecticut, who make the long journey north to view the eclipse from SUNY Potsdam. A reporter from was also on campus to interview students, witness totality, and participate in activities around campus.

Highlights of the day include space-themed coloring, eclipse music, an eclipse history outdoor exhibit, a time capsule and a large-scale model of the solar system! SUNY Potsdam student clubs and organizations will also get in on the fun, including space Lego building with the Anthropology Club and an eclipse book sale with the History Association.

Science activities/demonstrations included:

  • Totality in the Planetarium: The Revetta Planetarium in Stowell Hall was open for totality, with demonstrations explaining the nature of eclipses.
  • WISER Center in Space: Vistors could learn about techniques for growing plants for food in space at the Wagner Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Research (WISER).
  • Space for Food: Guests could participate in eclipse-themed cooking activities at the HEARTH.
  • How Eclipses Work:  Vistors were able to check out the "dark" lab room with three celestial models set up (each with a Sun light, plus a Moon and Earth that orbit) to learn about different types of eclipses and what causes them.
  • How Scientists Study the Composition of Other Planets: Vistoris learned about the rocks and minerals that make up the planets in our solar system, and used petrographic microscopes to view thin sections.
  • Imaging and Mapping Space Exhibit: Guests could play in the augmented reality sandbox to build maps of Mars, learn how to image planetary surfaces, and check out high-resolution maps and photos of Earth, Mars and the Moon.
  • Planetary Geology and Water Flow Demonstration:  The stream table was up and running to show how scientists use patterns in sediment to understand surface processes on other planets.
  • Building Platonic Solids Demonstration:  Guests learned about Kepler’s original flawed model of the solar system and the eventual correct model.
  • Google Moon and Mars:  The GIS Lab displayed Google Moon and Google Mars for visitors.
  • Animals and the Eclipse: Guests learned about current research on how animals respond to eclipses. 

The eclipse, spanning over two hours, was a treat for the Potsdam campus and community, especially with clear skies during the breathtaking 3 minutes and 10.9 seconds of totality—a moment that was truly out of this world.

Photos by Ayisha Khalid '24, Jesstine Avadikian, and Jason Hunter