PITTSBURG — People stood looking up into the sky as the moon eclipsed the sun at Pittsburg State University’s Carnie Smith Stadium for the Great Gorilla Eclipse watch party on Monday.

PSU and KOAM/FOX14 hosted the watch party, which also happened to be the first day of School for the university.

“It is exciting,” PSU President Steve Scott said. “It is wonderful it coincides with the first day of classes too.

“It is like a reunion — it is a shared experience we can all have, it makes it pretty special.”

Teachers had an option to let their students out for the event, Health, Human Performance in Recreation Instructor Shelly Grimes said she worked the solar eclipse into her curriculum and allowed her students to have the day off for the eclipse.

“It’s science,” she said. “I put in healthy eye content in the course.

“Plus, the sun lights the day everywhere and they should be part of it. For some kids, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity — it has been an overwhelming excitement for the student body.”

Scott said the event not only brought the community together, but also shined light on the physics department.

The physics department brought three of its telescopes out to the field so people could view the sun and the moon.

PSU student Kaden Brannin looked inside the physic lab’s telescope and tried to capture an image with his phone.
“This is pretty cool,” Brannin said. “I’m super excited to see something like this — I can’t miss this moment.”

Another student, Christian Staecker, brought along a filter to document the eclipse and he managed to capture an image which looked like a little crescent moon on the back of the camera.

Six-year-old Paisley Corder and her father Joe Corder made a pinhole projector together just like his father did with him when he was younger. Paisley said she was excited.

Together Paisley and her father watched the eclipse through the box — two little crescent moon shapes appeared on the inside.

Dan and Sonia Ipok traveled from Miami, Oklahoma, to view the eclipse.

Dan Ipok saw the eclipse in the 1970s when he was working in a research lab in Oklahoma — he viewed it in a pinhole box similar to Paisley's.

Sonia Ipok, who was a university student in Oklahoma at the time, didn’t know it was happening that day until she walked outdoors after shopping and noticed it was a little darker outside then she had expected.

Underneath their umbrella, the Ipoks were able to have a chance to see the eclipse again.

The next eclipse will be in 2024 to the south and east of Kansas — Kansas will not be in the line of totality.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.