Thousands of people flocked to Morehead Planetarium on UNC’s campus Monday to view the first solar eclipse to travel coast-to-coast across the United States in nearly a century.
Morehead Planetarium sold 1,000 tickets to informational solar eclipse shows throughout the afternoon. The celebration also had free educational activities for attendees of all ages, including food trucks, an eclipse viewer building station, solar eclipse screen prints and a livestream of the path of totality.
The planetarium sold out of eclipse glasses within minutes of the start of the celebration, so Stephanie Grant, a senior at UNC who works at Morehead Planetarium, encouraged people to look through viewers made of cardboard boxes, aluminum and cardstock.
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Because of the high demand for tickets and glasses, some students weren’t able to get spots in the planetarium show, but they didn’t want to miss the eclipse party.
“The eclipse is really a spectacle,” said Christian Hand, a junior at UNC. “It’s a natural spectacle and something that you don’t necessarily get to see many times in your life, so I thought I might as well go see it at the planetarium.”
At N.C. State University classes were canceled or delayed. Many students left campus and headed for the path of totality near Columbia, S.C., or Nashville, Tenn.
Hundreds of students who stayed came to the Brickyard, lining up around noon to get eclipse glasses and popsicles.
“My friends and I had been planning to come for some time to see the once-in-a-lifetime eclipse,” said Sam Melikian, a paper science and engineering major. Melikian made his own viewing device from a cardboard box and paper.
Olivia Gartz, a mechanical engineering major, shared Melikian’s perspective.
“Something that happens once in a lifetime on a worldly scale should be a national holiday,” she said. “All classes should be canceled if they interfere with the event.”
Although Morehead Planetarium is on the UNC campus, UNC students weren’t the only ones attracted to the eclipse party. 8-year-old Elise Armstrong, who was there with her family, said seeing the eclipse inspired her even more to fulfill her dream of being an astronaut.
“I want to be the first girl on the moon,” she said.