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The Sentinel

The Student News Site of John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The Sentinel

The Student News Site of John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The Sentinel

John Jay Students View Total Solar Eclipse on the Jay Walk

Laila Mansour
2024 Solar Eclipse.

On April 8th, 2024 John Jay students, faculty, and staff gathered together on the Jay Walk to experience the historical total solar eclipse.

This total solar eclipse, in which the moon blocks the sun completely, reminded many of the eclipse that occurred during the summer of 2017. According to NASA, however, there were a few key differences, including the span of the path of totality and the distance between Earth and the moon.

Photo by Laila Mansour

The differences were notable at John Jay as well. Dr. Edgardo Sanabria-Valentin, the associate director of PRISM and organizer of the eclipse viewing event, recalled the eclipse viewing event he organized back in 2017 and compared the turnout. 

“When we had the last eclipse in 2017, it was on a day when there were no classes. There were only maybe 25 people out here, and most of them were my students. So when I found out about this, I wanted to bring it to the whole community, so I was lucky that the college provided the funds so that we could buy glasses for as many people as possible. And I am so excited that everybody came,” said Sanabria-Valentin.

Among the crowd on the Jay Walk were President Karol Mason and Interim Provost Allison Pease, excitedly documenting the impressive turnout.

Justin Colon, a physics professor at the college and special emcee of the event, provided a few fun facts explaining the science behind the eclipse.

“What’s fun about eclipses – you know how the sun and the moon seem generally the same size when you look at them – that is due to a really rare ratio. The sun is actually 400 times larger than our moon, but it’s also 400 times the distance from us than the distance from the Earth to the moon, so the 400 – 400 proportionality actually lines up perfectly to give us that totality ring of fire,” Colon explained.

Professor Colon also noted what this historical event would look like from other planets. 

“If you hop over to Mars and see a solar eclipse from there, they have tinier moons, and it looks almost like a potato crossing the sun, which is still cool because it’s a Martian solar eclipse, but it’s nowhere near as beautiful as something like this,” said Colon. 

Colon continued to explain the effect the resulting coverage of the sun has on certain animals.  

“With it being dark, animals are also going to start acting a little strangely.  We’re in New York City, so pigeons are everywhere. You might see them heading back to their nests because it’s getting darker, so they think it is nighttime and they should turn in for the day.  So it usually makes nocturnal animals wake up sooner.”  

Most importantly, however, Colon urged all eclipse viewers why it is imperative that they wear proper eye protection when viewing eclipses. 

Photo by Laila Mansour

“The reason that people say eclipses are more dangerous is, because of the low light we’re experiencing, our pupils like to expand to let more light in. As our irises are expanding, we’re still taking in more light, and all of that ultraviolet light, which is very high energy, is still hitting the back of our eyes. That is not going to hurt because we don’t have nerve endings there, but if you decide to stare at the eclipse, in 30 minutes to like maybe a day later you will start to notice a little blurry dot in the center of your vision –  that is a burn on your retina, so that’s dangerous. always use proper equipment and effective eyewear,” said Colon. 

As part of the eclipse viewing event, solar eclipse glasses were provided on a first-come first-served basis to students and staff alike. There were 600 pairs of glasses for students and faculty, but all of them were gone within minutes of the event’s start. 

Students, equipped with their eclipse glasses, had an enjoyable experience viewing this solar event with friends. However, some felt let down by the actual magnitude, or rather lack thereof, of the eclipse itself.

Freshman Camila Pimentel noted, “It was anticlimactic, but it was cute to see everyone come together to see it.”

Ysabella Fernandez, another first-year student, echoed these sentiments, elaborating, “We expected it to go completely dark, so it was a little disappointing. I enjoyed it, though, because I was here with my friends. It was nice seeing old classmates and professors getting together to experience a once in a lifetime experience.”

According to NASA, the next time New York City will experience a total solar eclipse will be in 2045. 


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About the Contributor
Laila Mansour
Laila Mansour, Treasurer
Laila Mansour is a Freshman at John Jay College, majoring in Forensic Science (BS) and minoring in English. Laila has previously served as a Writer in the Fall 2023 semester and now serves as the Treasurer. She is a part of the Macaulay Honors Program at John Jay and writes for the Macaulay Messenger as well. At John Jay, she also works as a Visit Guide through CUNY Explorers and is a part of the Forensic Science Society, CUNY Inclusive Economy Initiative, and the Arab Student Union. She plans to apply to PRISM, John Jay’s STEM research program, as she continues on her path to becoming a forensic DNA analyst. Her love for writing has prompted her supplement her STEM studies with English, and she intends to turn her English minor into a double major. She has published an article on the new Girls Who Code chapter opening up at John Jay and looks forward to continuing to bring awareness to STEM opportunities and student achievements as well as bringing the school’s mission of advocating for justice to life through the paper. Laila’s favorite quote is “It takes courage to see the world in all its tainted glory and still to love it,” by Oscar Wilde.

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