Westminster invites the entire college community to “Eclipse at Westminster” on campus August 21 as we share a once-in-a-lifetime event—the biggest and best solar eclipse in American history.
Westminster stands right in the totality zone for best viewing, and college officials have planned some exciting activities to add to the enjoyment of this rare celestial event for new students, returning students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends.
Campus events begin Sunday, August 20, with a celebration of the sights and sounds of the magnificent Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, a 17th century English church that was brought from London and restored on campus to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill’s 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech. Today, the Undercroft of the Church houses the National Churchill Museum.
In the Church at 2 p.m. the Sandra L. and Monroe E. Trout Director and Chief Curator of the Museum, Timothy Riley will discuss the architect of the Church, Sir Christopher Wren, who was an astronomer before he became an architect. He will also speak on the recently rediscovered Churchill essay, “Are We Alone in the Universe.”
An organ concert entitled “Music of the Spheres” on the beautiful Mander organ will follow the discussion. Organist for the concert will be David Sinden, the church organist and music director for St. Peters Episcopal Church in St. Louis, MO.
This Sunday event is free with Museum admission ($8.50 for adults, $7.50 for senior citizens, $6.50 for ages 12-18, $5.50 for ages 6-11, and free for children age 5 and under).
Then, at 11 a.m., the following day, Dr. Kent Palmer, Emeritus Professor Physics, and Leah Criswell, Adjunct Instructor of Physics, will host a mini-lecture and educational discussion regarding the eclipse, its significance, and the science behind it at 11 a.m. in Champ Auditorium. Dr. Palmer will discuss how solar eclipses differ from lunar eclipses, why they are rare and important, what to look for during the eclipse, viewing safety, and a question and answer segment.
Special glasses necessary to view the eclipse will be distributed after the lecture.
Professor Palmer’s lecture can also be viewed by live stream at
Following the lecture at 11:30 a.m., everyone will be invited to enjoy a BBQ lunch picnic style at both the Backer Dining Hall and Priest Football Field. The cost is $10.00, which is due at the door. Visitors planning on attending lunch should RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Westminster faculty and staff who register in advance can enjoy a complimentary lunch. Faculty and staff should register at https://events.membersolutions.com/event_register.asp?content_id=71083.
Due to the historic significance of the event, campus offices will be permitted to close from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for the eclipse activities and luncheon.
The campus community will be encouraged to observe the eclipse at Priest Field. A partial eclipse will begin at 11:44 a.m., the total eclipse will take place at 1:13 p.m., and the observance will end at 1:30 p.m. Viewers are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs so they can watch the phenomenon comfortably.
Several area high schools have expressed interest in bringing their students to the Westminster eclipse observance.
A satellite eclipse viewing area is available at Crane’s Country Store, owned by David ’90 and Amy ’91 Crane.