Eclipsing the Ordinary

By Paige Penfield, Content Marketing Strategist

An event of astronomical proportions is poised to captivate the city of Erie on April 8, 2024, and Gannon University has a front-row seat. So, grab your popcorn and protective eyewear. A total solar eclipse is something you won’t want to miss. In fact, it's an event the city of Erie won’t observe again for over a century. 

What to expect

The eclipse will begin over the South Pacific Ocean and cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States and Canada. Erie is the only city in Pennsylvania positioned directly in the “line of totality,” meaning that the sun will completely disappear behind the moon, dimming the daytime sky for nearly four minutes. 

“Anybody who has even a mild curiosity in astronomy should be excited about this event,” said David Horne, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics. “We here at Gannon would really like to share this experience with the Gannon community and the rest of the public, including informing people on safe ways to view the eclipse and how to get the most enjoyment out of the experience.” 

Solar Eclipse Timeline

  • 2:02 PM to 3:16 PM | Observe only with eclipse glasses or solar filters. Wait time: 1 hr. 14 mins.
  • 3:16 PM | Safe to observe without glasses or solar filters. Totality duration: 3 min. 41.8 secs.
  • 3:20 PM to 4:30 PM | Observe only with eclipse glasses or solar filters. Wait time: 1 hr. 10 mins.

How Gannon is preparing

People from all over the world will be traveling to Erie to see this event, from professional astronomers to hobbyists alike. Leading to it, Horne and the university are working to educate the public on the eclipse in many ways.

Coordinated classroom and community visits are providing local students with information about total solar eclipses, with a video on safe eclipse viewing practices and a precise timeline for the Erie area. Solar eclipse safety glasses are also being distributed. 

Stay tuned…

Gannon is planning for an unforgettable experience for all eclipse enthusiasts. 

Public viewing sites are planned across multiple campus and community locations on the day of the eclipse, including McConnell Family Stadium, Friendship Green, Perry Square and the Erie Children’s Museum, as well as a live broadcast from Gannon’s student-run radio station, 90.5 WERG. 

As more arrangements for the day unfold, organizers promise the event will be one worth looking forward to experiencing.

In an interview with Erie Times-News, Horne expressed, “Even if people feel they are prepared for it, the sun is one of those things that we take for granted so much. When it disappears like that you will be surprised, and it will be spectacular.”

Up, up and away

NASA’s Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project selected Gannon University’s High Altitude Ballooning Team, led by Wookwon Lee, Ph.D., professor of electrical and cyber engineering, and Nick Conklin, Ph.D., professor of physics, to participate as one of more than 53 teams in the country to conduct balloon flights to near space during the eclipse. 

Students in Front of Space Shuttle

Front L-R: Students Zach Dickinson, Damien Chu, Sara Jones, Hannah Jacobs, Kalkidan Lakew, Andrew Snowdy; Second row L-R: Drew Mortensen (Harbor Creek teacher), Dr. Nick Conklin (Gannon Physics), Allen Lombardozzi (Harbor Creek teacher); not shown taking the picture is Dr. Wookwon Lee (Gannon electrical and cyber engineering).

They recently traveled to San Antonio, Texas, and conducted a balloon launch and recovery mission  to test their work and gather preliminary data during the annular solar eclipse that moved over San Antonio on Oct. 14.

Working with other college and university teams at sites along the total solar eclipse path, Gannon’s student team will use the innovative balloon payload systems in April to live stream atmosphere video and data to the NASA eclipse website.

View more from Gannon’s High Altitude Ballooning Team and their journey to near space. 

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Gannon Magazine is published bi-annually by University Marketing and Communications.

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Doug Oathout
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Mallory (Hedlund) Bottoni ’14
Assistant Director for Marketing, Communications and Content

Paige Penfield
Content Marketing Strategist


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