The STEM Skyline Expedition Team went on another trip to see a Solar Eclipse, following the 2017 total eclipse expedition.

On Friday, October 13th, a team of 5 instructors: Marco Wehrfritz, Nick Kapp, Susanne Schubert, Mayra Lopez-Thibodeaux, and Denise Hum, plus 13 Skyline Students traveled 400 miles to Winnemucca, Nevada, to be on the path of maximum coverage of the 2023 North American Annular Eclipse, which happened in the morning of Saturday, October 14th. With an annular eclipse, the moon moves in front of the sun, causing a shadow, but because the moon is a little bit further away from the earth and does not entirely cover the face of the sun, it leaves a Ring of Fire on the outer edge of the moon shadow.

It was strenuous to drive the 400 miles in one day, but worth it! In Winnemucca, we camped on the lawn of the fairgrounds and spent the cold evening with hot tea, chocolate, and pizza around a nice campfire. Sadly, the night was cloudy, and we could not use the telescopes to see the stars or planets. This made us very worried about the next day. On Saturday morning, everyone got up early to prepare the telescopes and break down the camp. Around 8:00 am, the moon started to move in the path of the sun, and everyone was able to view it by using the special eclipse glasses. Around 9 a.m., the clouds cleared just in time to see the actual phenomenon. The livestream was started on Instagram just before the Ring of Fire so the Skyline community could follow along. About fifty interested students, staff, and administrators virtually joined our expedition and followed the path of the eclipse from their homes. Everyone was extremely happy when the clouds parted just at the right moment for us to view the entire Ring of Fire!

Around 10 a.m., we loaded up the vans and left Winnemucca. We safely arrived exhausted but happy back at Skyline around 7 p.m.

The students enjoyed the trip – the opportunity to observe such a rare natural phenomenon that they had heard about in their textbooks and to build a community outside the classroom. It was an overall success, and Expedition students were asked to give their comments about the trip, and this is what they said.

“This trip was great! Not only did we see the annular eclipse, but I also got closer to a bunch of people through this trip.”

-Ryan Rosskovish

“It was beautiful being able to notice how much stronger people can be when they work together than alone. As a very independent student, I tend to prefer working alone, however, this trip changed that a bit. I’ve grown to see more value in being a part of a team and creating meaningful connections with people than simply relying on myself to get a job done. The small laughs, the deep conversations, and the long rides may sound normal to some, but for me it was the peace my soul needed.”
-Barakah Dugan

“I had an incredible time on the eclipse trip. It was an experience I never thought I’d get to have; I’m grateful I could be a part of it with the club. I had a great time getting to know everybody and hearing about their research and interests.”
-Veronica Johnson

“The Solar Eclipse trip was more than just looking at the eclipse! It was about connecting with fellow members, learning more about each other and our own philosophies in life, and building a community that loves everything Physics and Astronomy!”
-Gabriel Hapin-Aranda

” I really enjoyed the awesome vibes during the trip. Aside from the eclipse, I also enjoyed looking at the night sky with hot cocoa and marshmallows.”
-Matthew Dacanay

“Being able to directly see natural phenomena encourages trust in science; if this is real, then many of the other things that people doubt, like climate change, and vaccines that scientists research and present should also be true. By going on these expeditions, our staff and students can directly confirm what we see in our classrooms and researchers in general.”
-Nick Kapp (Instructor)

A BIG THANK YOU to our Associated Students of Skyline College (ASSC) for funding the trip! Once more, they supported the STEM division in making a field trip happen and tremendously enriching the academic journey for the participating students!

And another big THANK YOU to our Administrators for making that happen! They all supported us with the code of conduct training and making sure we had funding secured and the necessary paperwork in place. Thanks to Interim Dean of STEM Jing Folsom, VPI Vinicio Lopez, VPAS Joe Morello, Acting VPSS Luis Escobar, and Acting President Newin Orante. A special thanks to Dean Dino Nomicos for letting us use the vans!

It is really awesome that we have such a great and supportive community that allows us to go on such endeavors! Skyline Rocks!

If you want to see the video about the trip, please use the link below.

List of participating students:
Kadae Aung, Leonardo Calle, Ariana Cerna, Matthew Dacanay, Barakah Dugan, Gabriel Hapin – Aranda, Veronica Johnson, Aaron Torres Mendoza, Lizbeth Posso, John Michael Rada, Ryan Rossovich, Sean Ruiz, Baand Mowen Tan.

Article by Marco Wehrfritz, Nick Kapp, Susanne Schubert and Emilie Hein

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