Solar eclipse viewing party draws crowd to Penn State Wilkes-Barre

People wearing special glasses while looking at the sky.

Attendees use special glasses to view the solar eclipse during a watch party at Penn State Wilkes-Barre.

Credit: Penn State

DALLAS, Pa.— On April 8, the Friedman Observatory at Penn State Wilkes-Barre hosted a solar eclipse viewing party, attracting more than 1,500 local residents seeking a view of the unique celestial phenomenon. The event featured activities inside and outside the Nesbitt Academic Commons for children and adults.

Crowds eager to see the eclipse gathered to see the 94.9% near-total eclipse at Penn State Wilkes-Barre. According to NASA’s Eclipse Explorer, the eclipse began at 2:08 p.m., peaked at 3:23 p.m., and ended at 4:34 p.m., offering chances throughout the afternoon to view the eclipse. The next full solar eclipse will not cross the United States for more than 20 years.

Free eclipse glasses were provided to guests for a safe viewing experience. In addition to observing the eclipse, visitors could view live footage streaming from NASA and check out an eclipse-themed exhibit in the Friedman Art Gallery. Children’s crafts and giveaways, including photos with the Nittany Lion, added to the themed atmosphere.

Missy Nenstiel and her daughters Norah, 8, and Charlotte, 5, came from Sugarloaf for the viewing party and activities. She said they especially enjoyed the crafts and storytime that went along with the eclipse viewing.

“I felt like the event made the eclipse a bit more special, especially for my kids, who I felt would benefit from a deeper understanding of the event itself. It gave us something to look forward to,” Nenstiel said. “I think going to a public event like this where everyone was gathering, with all the excitement there, made it more special and memorable for us.”

While clouds pervaded, attendees were still able to see a glimpse of the eclipse during the brief moments when the clouds parted. They were also able to use the Friedman Observatory’s high-powered telescope to look at the sky.

“Even though it was cloudy and we didn’t get to see much, the events were well planned and made the day feel special,” Nenstiel said. “It was great that they offered this for the community as a fun educational experience.”

The Friedman Observatory is open to the public for an open house every Friday at 8 p.m., weather permitting, with no reservation needed.