August 21 Solar Eclipse
August 21 was a red-letter day at Calvin College, in that it was the much-anticipated solar eclipse. No members of our library staff were actually following the "path of totality," but we took part in the excitement on campus. Our Dean, David Malone, created a pinhole viewer so that those without the glasses could watch. At one point - between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. - three of our staff ran out to the Commons Lawn just to the north of the library and joined a small crowd gathered there. Someone had extra eclipse glasses to hand around. To the right you see library staffers Katherine Swart, Remington Steed, and Kathy De Mey.
As an item of interest, Richard Whitekettle, a religion professor at Calvin who took part in the viewing, commented that there was nothing in the writings of ancient Israel about the phenomenon of the eclipse, but the Babylonians knew and wrote about it. For the most part, they considered it to be an ill omen. They were able to predict with accuracy when an eclipse would take place. The king would be hidden away for safety's sake and a commoner would take his place. After some time had passed, the king would resume his throne and the commoner would be executed to appease the gods.