Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Dominique Martinez-Powell | dmartinez_powell.photography
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The eclipse live: Meet the professor and students bringing the event to the world

Karla+Berry%2C+left+in+black%2C+discusses+plans+with+her+eclipse+production+students+at+Saluki+Stadium%0APhoto+provided+by+Mark+Stoffel
Mark Stoffel
Karla Berry, left in black, discusses plans with her eclipse production students at Saluki Stadium Photo provided by Mark Stoffel

When the moon starts to creep in front of the sun at 12:42 p.m. local time on April 8, Associate Professor Karla Berry and her students will be making sure people all across the globe can experience the “magical” event.

 

Berry, who works in the School of Media Arts, is teaching an electronic media workshop so students can create content, in advance and in real time, for a live YouTube feed. You can get a quick preview on the SIU SolarSTEAM channel.

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Eclipse 2024 Live from SIU Carbondale will also be broadcast on WSIU From 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

 

“We will be live as we follow from Mazatlan [Mexico], then we have Eagle Pass, Texas..so that’s kind of where the shadow hits the U.S. for the first time. Then Carbondale, we’ll spend a lot of time in Carbondale, of course, we have multiple telescope feeds here. Then we go to Vincennes, Indiana, then Oxford, Ohio, then I think it’s Edinburgh, Pennsylvania,” Berry said.

 

Watch parties for the YouTube live stream are planned as far away as Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

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The stream, which students affectionately refer to as “the Karla show,” will be based at SIU’s stadium, where thousands are expected to gather to witness totality. That will start at 1:59 p.m. Central time and last four minutes, as day briefly turns into night.

 

Berry hopes the live stream audience can feel the sense of wonder, just as the real life audience does.

 

“I want them to geek out about all of it, you know,” she said. “Bottom line, they’ll learn something about this, they will engage with just this magical, natural, you know, just an event like this is a phenomenon.”

 

Berry’s students have a wide range of tasks for “the Karla show.” Some are producing documentary clips, while others are doing social content like “fun, flashy vertical videos,” according to cinema major Kaylee Wobig.

 

“I’ve never seen a total solar eclipse before. I’ve actually never seen an eclipse at all, so for this to be my first ever viewing…it’s really special for me, because I get to be so up close and personal with it,” she said.

 

All the students are working regularly with eclipse chasers and other heliophysics experts.

 

Cinema major Alyssa Krueger said the number of people that base their lives around eclipses and studying the solar system is “crazy.”

 

“There’s so many people with so much knowledge,” she said. “It’s really nice that all of them are willing to share with us and tell us all of their experiences.”

 

Radio, television and digital major Nathan Culli got to spend time with some of those people during an October trip to watch an annular eclipse in Midland, Texas, where he documented the science going on around it.

 

“It kind of prompts me for April’s eclipse to really see what totality is going to be like because I only got a hint of it.

 

RTD major Gavin Melton was in SIU’s stadium during that annular eclipse, taking Karla’s class in the fall. He calls it a “surreal” experience.

 

“You feel really small in those moments,” he said.

 

Fellow student AJ Rice felt similarly when he witnessed his first total eclipse back in 2017.

 

“I was shocked at the perspective shift,” he said. “Like how tiny you are in the world.

 

Rice said it’s breathtaking to see two giant celestial objects interacting.

 

“I’ve always found it fascinating that the moon is just such a perfect size. If it were any bigger there would not be the cool corona,” he said.

 

Rice calls himself a “big science nerd” who listens to a ton of science podcasts. His comes into the project with a much different background than Culli.

 

“The extent of my astronomy knowledge before this was one unit in sixth grade science,” Culli said.

 

The students and Berry are working directly with NASA contractors on their production. The SolarSTEAM project is being funded largely through a NASA grant and many other projects are working in collaboration with the eclipse.

 

The Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast (DEB) Initiative is a network of citizen scientists that will have telescopes set up along the path of totality.  They will feeding content to Berry’s live stream.

 

The film company Cosmic Picture is using this eclipse and the 2017 event to produce an IMAX film.

 

Another project involves a virtual field trip for middle schools in the Chicago area who are connected to three middle schools in Southern Illinois.

 

“We will have students in the north and south connected, so they get to share experiences,” Berry said.

 

Krueger said Berry is a “gem” that “keeps this thing turning.”

 

“She is so scatterbrained but in the best possible way,” Krueger said. “She is talking with so many people all the time, constantly getting new information for us and being so open and transparent about, so everything she knows, we know…she’s been absolutely fantastic.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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