Students, Riley Leonard reflect on major celestial event

The University of Notre Dame fell in the path of the solar eclipse on Monday, April 8, at 3:09 p.m., as the moon’s shadow crossed North America from Mexico to Maine. Students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered on the various campus quads, and several departments held official events. 

The College of Science sponsored the “2024 Eclipse Watch Party” from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. on the Irish Green behind the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. The watch party featured seven solar telescopes, a live eclipse feed located inside the Performing Arts Center’s Philbin Studio Theatre, and astronomy demonstrations. Eye safety and the importance of proper eclipse protection were emphasized throughout the event. 

The entire eclipse lasted a little over two hours, with the celestial event beginning at 1:53 p.m., reaching its peak of 97 percent totality at 3:09 p.m., and ending at 4:08 p.m. Winds picked up and the sky darkened dramatically as the moon passed directly between the earth and the sun.

Prior to the eclipse, the College of Science spearheaded efforts to coordinate informative events on campus, planning public lectures as well as planetarium shows at the Digital Visualization Theatre (DVT) in the Jordan Hall of Science. The DVT held a visualization titled “Get Ready for the April 8 Solar Eclipse!” on February 13, as well as numerous presentations throughout March and April. One such talk was given by Professor of Astronomy Phil Sakimotoat at St. Joseph County Public Library, titled “What if the Sun doesn’t come back?” DVT director Dr. Keith Davis gave three additional presentations to sold-out audiences during the weekend immediately prior to the eclipse.

The Student Union Board (SUB) promoted the event as a part of AnTostal, their annual week of spring programming. AnTostal references the 1950s Irish spring festivals of the same name, and it has been held every April since 1967 as a week of student-organized competitions, prizes, and food. This year, SUB settled on a celestial theme, dubbing it “AstroTostal.” 

Belle Marchetti, this year’s SUB AnTostal committee chair, told the Rover, “We knew that the eclipse was coming up, so we worked with the College of Science to get a bunch of eclipse glasses that we could distribute to students. We are also using it as a chance to talk about AnTostal and get our schedule of events out for next week.”

Students received solar eclipse glasses and free bagels from SUB on Monday morning at the Fitzpatrick Terrace outside of DeBartolo Hall. While junior physics major Adrian Flores was picking up his glasses, he told the Rover, “It’s amazing to see everyone huddling up and looking forward to it! Personally, I’m really excited, I am a physics major who likes space, and it is just a cool thing to witness.”

Campus was full of anticipation surrounding the major celestial event. Junior business analytics student Renee Aziz told the Rover, “My dad ordered me solar eclipse glasses and a lens for my iPhone to capture the solar eclipse. I have class during it, but I am sure that my professor will let us out.” 

All classes in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) were canceled, and the department partnered with the Glynn Family Honors Program to charter a bus and bring students to Fishers, Indiana in order to observe the eclipse in its totality. In an email sent to PLS students, Professor and Department Chair Julia Marvin urged students to “enjoy this natural wonder, wherever you may be.” 

The eclipse was also the subject of much theological speculation—with some students discussing conspiracies promulgated by posts on X surrounding the occurrence of Masonic rituals. Bishop Joseph Strickland, emeritus bishop of Tyler, Texas, celebrated a live broadcast Mass “to counter any satanic and Masonic activity” during the event. 

Riley Leonard, Notre Dame junior and next year’s presumptive starting quarterback, spoke with the Rover at the eclipse watch: “I have heard rumors that the world might end … but I have also heard that Jesus may be coming back—which would be really exciting.” 

Despite these speculations, Monday evening passed uneventfully, with the eclipse completing its expected path across Indiana and the rest of North America.

Catalina Scheider Galiñanes is a junior from the Washington, D.C. area majoring in economics and political science with a minor in constitutional studies. She is available to discuss liberalism, Virginia politics, and country music at

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Photo Credit: Notre Dame Instagram, photo by Chris Schindler