Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Thousands View Eclipse Around Diocesan Schools

The Message photo by Tim Lilley

“That’s so cool!”


The comment was heard over and over as members of Mater Dei High School’s faculty and staff began gathering on the front lawn a few minutes before students were dismissed to the front lawn of campus.  Evansville’s Mater Dei was one of many schools around the Diocese of Evansville that took time from their normal school schedule to participate in viewing the historic solar eclipse on Aug. 21.  


Donna Richardson and Jeff Jewel, science teachers at Mater Dei, communicated safety measures and procedures to students and staff earlier in the day during a school-wide assembly.  Mater Dei provided all students with safety glasses to safely view the eclipse, and parents signed permission slips to allow students to participate in the outdoor “field trip.”


Richardson had a few last-minute instructions for the students as they shuffled out to the campus front lawn. “Don’t walk with your glasses on!” she told students while pointing out the changes caused by the blockage of the sun.


The eclipse provided the opportunity for a real-life science lesson enjoyed by teachers and students alike. The excitement grew as each put on their safety glasses, looked up at the sky and marveled at the ongoing event.


Temperatures dropped and the sky darkened as students took time away from their indoor classes to observe the eclipse.  While some places like Hopkinsville, Ky., were in the path of totality, locally students observed about 99.2 percent coverage of the sun.


As the event approached peak coverage, Richardson led students to nearby trees to observe the change the eclipse had on shadows cast by the partially blocked sun.  


“It does look strange, doesn’t it?” Richardson asked the students.


Other diocesan schools hosted viewing parties outside, while some schools chose to stay in the comfort of classrooms.  Teachers in many schools made pinhole cameras with their students - a do-it-yourself way to watch without staring at the sun.  


For most students, including Mater Dei Senior Yukala Shackleford, the chance to see a solar eclipse brought nothing but excitement.


”I’ve seen a blue moon, but this is my first eclipse,” Shackleford said. “It’s just amazing!”

The Message will be publishing photos of eclipse viewing activities from throughout the Diocese of Evansville on p. 12 and in upcoming weekly editions.  Thank you to our many schools that have submitted photos.