Astronomy club gets front-row seat for total eclipse

Organization gives physics students a chance to pursue shared passion

| Author: Eric Baerren | Media Contact: Aaron Mills

A man with curly dark hair and a beard and a woman with straight blonde hair and glasses look at a viewing screen attached to a camera.
Two members of Central Michigan University's Astronomy Club watch April's total solar eclipse through the viewing screen of a camera.

Last month’s total solar eclipse provided a rare chance to witness an astronomical event. It also gave members of a registered student organization at Central Michigan University an experience that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

Thirty-seven members of the Central Michigan Astronomy Club traveled to Ohio to watch the eclipse in Toledo. It was in the path of totality.  

A dark circle is surrounded by a corona of bright yellow-orange light.
April's total solar eclipse was visible in Toledo. Members of Central Michigan University's Astronomy Club traveled there to watch it happen.

“Seeing the total solar eclipse was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I will never forget the sheer beauty of the event,” said Keegan Binder, the club’s president. “It was genuinely one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed, and being there with my friends and classmates, who have a shared interest in astronomy, was a time I will look back at after graduation with nothing but happiness in my heart.

Binder and Jordan Nether were among the club’s founders in 2022. They were already members of the Society of Physics Students that spring semester, but decided they wanted something a bit more.

They wanted a club that would help them pursue their passion in the night sky. That fall, they officially founded the club.

Nether said he discovered that he possessed that passion at age 10. He’d like to carry it over into a career in teaching.

The thing about astronomy is that it either terrifies you or fills you with an insatiable curiosity about everything about it, he said. There’s a tremendous amount to learn about how those celestial bodies behave.

They were aware of April’s eclipse when they formed the club, but they only started planning it in the fall semester. Detailed plans only came together in the last couple of months, Binder said.

The club holds regular meetings, but the real fun comes when they go to the Brooks Astronomical Observatory. They bring their personal telescopes and occasionally look through the university’s.

The light in Mount Pleasant limits what they can see due to light pollution obscuring the night sky.

“You don’t realize how few stars you see,” Binder said.

A group of people wearing solar eclipse glasses pose together while standing on a roof.
Members of Central Michigan University's Astronomy Club traveled to Toledo, Ohio, to watch April's total solar eclipse.


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