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UWF enjoys solar eclipse despite cloudy weather

Brother and sister Maxwell and Adena Tyms catch the partial social eclipse Monday afternoon with friend Timothy Cole.
Jennie McKeon
WUWF Public Media
Brother and sister Maxwell and Adena Tyms catch the partial social eclipse Monday afternoon with friend Timothy Cole.

Clouds or not, the solar eclipse brought together hundreds of people outside the University of West Florida Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

While Pensacola was not in the path of totality, locals could still catch the partial eclipse (about 70%) when the clouds weren’t in the way Monday afternoon.

For people like Fiona Morris, it was an opportunity for a shared experience. Students and visitors were taking turns to view the eclipse through large telescopes and solar eclipse glasses. The music playlist included “Starman” by David Bowie and “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes.

Partial eclipse captured by Fiona Morris.
Fiona Morris
Partial eclipse captured by Fiona Morris.

“I’m out here listening to music, relaxed, enjoying the company,” said Morris, a senior at UWF. “It’s just awesome to be a part of something.”

Across campus, students and staff took breaks outside to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.

Freshman Lyrehc Marshall held her eclipse glasses up to her phone to try and get a shot outside the UWF Commons.

“I think it’s cool,” she said. “You kind of remember you’re a speck. The earth and everything beyond it is nothing I could ever imagine.”

Sasha Warren, a junior software developer and designer student, sat at a table sifting through a bucket of gemstones.

“The eclipse means a lot to me,” she said wearing an “I Love Pluto” shirt. “I grew up watching science documentaries. One of my favorite memories is when my dad woke me up in the middle of the night to watch a lunar eclipse.”

Warren practices witchcraft; she had her gemstones out to charge under the eclipse to “help amplify their energy.” She admits it might sound odd.

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Adena Tyms and her brother, Maxwell, alongside their friend Timothy Cole, were patiently waiting for the peak time of the eclipse.

“Our mom bought us glasses, but the clouds suck,” said senior biomedical student Adena Tyms with a laugh.

At about 1:55 p.m., the clouds parted just in time.

“Wow, that’s so cool,” exclaimed Adena looking up.

“It kind of makes you think of humanity — how we’re all somehow connected at the end of the day.”

Indeed, the solar eclipse was the headline story across the world with an estimated tens of millions of Americans staring up into the sky.

Dr. Wayne Wooten, a local astronomer and president of the Escambia County Astronomer’s Association, said he was pleased to see so many people — especially young people — be interested in the day’s events. He had handouts ready with information about solar eclipse events of the past and future as well as sky maps.

He’s witnessed about 12 solar eclipse events in his lifetime. His favorite?

“May 30, 1984, in Alabama,” he said. “There was an 11-second annular eclipse. My wife, Merry, took a photo that was on the cover of ‘Reflector’ magazine.”

The next event is in 2045 with Bonifay, Fla. in the path of totality. Wooten will be in his 90s.

“I’m gonna try to make it,” he said.

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.