Apparently everyone is required to talk about eclipses now

What better way to kick off the new academic year at Creighton University than with a total solar eclipse two days before classes start? (Okay, technically Creighton and Omaha are just outside of the zone for the total eclipse, but 98% is not too bad – and it’s a short drive to totality.  This map will help you decide where to watch.) To celebrate, we’ve decided to share some of Creighton’s history with solar eclipses.

Father William F. Rigge, SJ, took a trip on behalf of the university in May 1900 to Washington, Georgia, to view a total solar eclipse. Despite not being outfitted with his own instruments, Rigge found his observations to be better than he had anticipated. Along with astronomy professors from St. Louis University and Xavier University, he observed the “external contacts” of the eclipse by projecting the image of the sun onto a piece of white screen at the end of a 3″ telescope. He also found it useful to have multiple sets of measurements from separate parties who were observing the eclipse from different locations for his research. Ultimately, using both his own data and the data of other stations, Fr. Rigge was able to determine the rate at which the eclipse’s shadow was moving.


Father Rigge observes the total solar eclipse on May 28, 1900 in Washington, Georgia

Fr. Rigge published an article in Technology Quarterly (March 1901) about his investigation titled, “The Eclipse Expedition of the Creighton University to Washington, Georgia.” Contained within this article are the details of his trip and scientific findings. For the more scientifically or mathematically inclined, he included some of his calculations in number or geometric form. The full text can be found here.

You may have also noticed our blog has a new look. We felt it was a necessary change due to popular demand – two counts as popular, right? – or perhaps not so much that as the fact that the old format felt outdated. The student workers found this format much more appealing and user-friendly. Let us know what you think!  (Thanks to Katherine for her work making this look good, and for writing most of this post.)

That’s all for now – remember to wear your eclipse glasses on August 21st, so you can stare at the eclipse without blinding yourself!

P.S. That white paper trick done by Fr. Rigge is still a way people can view the eclipse without special glasses. If you forgot to order yours on Amazon, NY Daily News has instructions on crafting your very own homemade eclipse viewer with a cereal box, scissors, tape, and white paper.  (Creighton University Archives does not endorse, etc., etc., so be careful and be safe.)


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