Hundreds watch eclipse in awe from Highland Observatory

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge and the metro area joined a nation in wonder at one of the marvels of the universe. The great American eclipse drew thousands of eyes upward, craning for a chance to see the moon drape our nearest star. The rare event was cause for a kind of holiday at the Highland Road Park Observatory in Baton Rouge.

"This is a country-wide thing, we're all taking part as much as we can," said the observatory's manager Chris Kersley.

Young and old watched through homemade projection boxes or solar glasses. Telescopes armed with a solar funnel projected the eclipse like a movie screen, and volunteers from the Baton Rouge Astronomical Society were on hand to help answer questions.

Kersley hopes the celestial show will open the world of science and astronomy to a whole new generation.

"This should definitely be looked upon by parents, teachers, informal educators, grandparents, as a jumping off place, not only for kids but for adults as well," said Kersley.

The rare event brought out scientists who conducted experiments in the few precious hours where the moon ruled the sky. Research professor Marty Horn spent several days measuring the earth's magnetic field before, during, and after the eclipse.

"What I'm trying to do here is determine if the moon during the eclipse has an effect of blocking those charged particles and therefore affect the magnetic field," said Horn.

Amateur star gazers also filled the lawn at the observatory. Among those, Sharon Thibodeaux and her daughter, Tessa. Tessa, explained her mom, is deaf and autistic. Science is her favorite subject and she researched and studied the eclipse for months.

"In her world, it means everything," said Thibodeaux.

Jayden Capers, 11, said this was an event he wouldn't miss. His father even paid $40 to purchase a pair of solar glasses at the last minute.

"It's a beautiful phenomenon," said Capers. "I always wanted to see that."

The Highland Observatory is open most Friday and Saturday nights, free to the public, until 10 pm. More information can be found here.

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