UT Astronomy Coordinator Sean Lindsay helped organize the watch party.
“It’s one of the few times you can actually look and observe celestial objects interacting with one another,” he said.
While only a 47% partial solar eclipse was visible in Knoxville, Lindsay said protective glasses are still necessary to view the spectacle.
“If you’re not going to wear these glasses, which only let one one-hundred-thousandth of the light through, then there’s enough sunlight, there’s enough energy from the light, that it can literally burn your retina. This can lead to temporary or permanent loss of vision,” he explained.
Similar to our eyes, some telescopes need protection from the eclipse. Jordan Jubeck fell in love with astronomy as a child, and is now pursuing a masters degree in astrophysics and astronomy education at UT.
“I didn’t actually buy a specialized solar filter, which is like $300 to do this today, I made one out of solar filter paper I got on amazon for $30 and cardboard,” Jubeck explained.
Jubeck wants people who are interested in astronomy to know it can be accessible.
“I don’t think there’s a lack of interest, I think there’s a lack of people pursuing it, just going out and doing things because of the perceived financial barrier,” Jubeck said.
Lindsay said Saturday’s partial eclipse is just the beginning when it comes to celestial phenomena that can be witnessed from your backyard.
“If you have not seen a total solar eclipse, it is a life changing experience, I say that with full meaning behind it, it is a life changing experience. If it’s not on your bucket list, add it to your bucket list,” he said.
The next total solar eclipse visible in North America will be on April 8th, 2024. Paducah, Kentucky is the closest town to Knoxville that will be in the path of totality for the eclipse.