Casper College Hosts Many for Exciting Total Solar Eclipse

By: Christopher Lorenzen
Photo by Karel Mathisen – Total Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017

Photo by Karel Mathisen – Total Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017.

Wow! August 21, 2017, was a big day for Casper and Casper College. Over 120 college employees were directly involved in the event, and the rest kept the college running smoothly. Everyone played a role in welcoming people from around the world to enjoy the experience of being on the Casper College campus. We certainly lived up to our welcoming image.

Below you will find some of the high points to the event and then links to photo galleries and news stories of note. Most everyone has left Casper at this point, but they’re leaving with an experience they’ll never forget.

Friday – Two hours of information and training shared. Lots of questions. Lots of unknowns but determination was in the air. This is going to be a great event.


  • Eclipse activity really picked up once Astrocon arrived in town. They came to the Casper College campus to see the Tate Geological Museum and scope out the viewing area they reserved over a year and a half ago.
  • The Tate parking lot never slowed down with many people photographing the T-Rex. It was a perfect day for photos.
  • Eclipse chasers were looking over the entire campus even the Maintenance Building parking lot. Security was a fulltime visitor and welcoming service.
  • Campus operators are covering the phones over the weekend and have added a menu item specifically for eclipse questions.
  • The Andersons were getting ready for their 14th total solar eclipse. They told stories of their experiences around the world. Fascinating! Mike O’Leary was on his ninth eclipse. He became the focus of several national media stories.
  • A few people helped us understand how to organize the event for viewing the eclipse:
    • The porta-potties were in the wrong spot, so we moved them.
    • The moon shadow came from the west at 1700 mph so where was the best place to set up a camera to capture that?
    • Light shining through the trees created a nice effect on the sidewalk below, can I put a camera on the sidewalk or in the road?
    • Can I spend the night on campus? No. Can I show up at 4 a.m.? Yes!
    • The City of Casper called and was in a pinch for a portable stage. They scheduled a press conference at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Jason Finkle organized his team to deliver the stage on Sunday.
    • Megan Graham and her team testing equipment and preparing their launch site from the west side of the McMurry Career Studies Center.
    • Alexander Marshak arrived to begin setting up equipment on the Gertrude Krampert Theatre roof. He’s part of the NASA DSCOVR:EPIC satellite program based at the Goddard Space Flight Center. Andrew Young and Jared Bowden were on hand to help. In fact, they spent three days on the roof with temperatures reaching above 100 degrees there! See the public images in the next 36 hours at Go to Galleries and look for the Aug. 21st eclipse images.
    • Meeting at the Parkway Plaza on Friday with Astrocon to discuss the plan for viewing the eclipse.
    • The Science Channel arrived to test their equipment they were going to use to stream the event. IT was on hand at multiple times throughout the weekend. Kent Brooks could be heard saying “What is it you need? We’ll get that done for you.” And he and his team did!
    • Visitors were seen on campus until dusk tweaking their equipment and taking photographs of the sunset. A few tried to spend the night, but they were provided a quick wake-up call from our front desk security staff.


  • 9 a.m. – Lots of people with telescopes were on campus preparing for the big day. The Tate Geological Museum parking lot was beginning to fill. Security was already in full gear greeting and answering questions from visitors.
  • Golf and utility carts were delivered at 10 a.m. These would allow for the volleyball team and the Veterans Club to sell beverages to everyone on Monday.
  • Dr. Jay Herman arrived from NASA along with his engineer Nadir. They completed the installation and connection of equipment they shipped to Casper earlier in the week. Andrew and Jared were on hand helping. Later that morning, Dr. Herman was interviewed by a Danish newspaper.
  • Megan’s team was seen working all day; preparing, trouble-shooting. They were ready for the big day!
  • Conversation with the people from revealed an extremely welcoming and helpful Casper College staff. They were “blown away” by the Casper College staff and how willing they are to help.
  • 2 p.m. – KTWO TV, KCWY, CBC (Canada) and ITV (London) were all on the roof of the Gertrude Krampert Theatre for a media conference with Dr. Herman and Dr. Divine.
  • 3:30 p.m. – Jason Finkle and team to David Street Station with a portable stage for the press conference. “We had our Casper College shirts on and made sure we could be seen in the background.” Go team!
  • Final campus preparation was underway with some last minute changes to improve flow and accessibility for visitors.
  • The Tate Geological Museum was busy all week. The museum recorded over 1,898 visitors in five days! The biggest day was the day of eclipse with 616 visitors in just four hours. That’s over 150 people an hour.
  • 6 p.m. – The Associated Press arrived to work with IT in setting up one of four live stream locations across the U.S.
  • 7 p.m. – The Science Zone kicked off its sold out event featuring Ira Flatow, the host of Science Friday. Earlier, Sarah Schneider helped KTWO TV arrange an exclusive interview with Mr. Flatow. His message and effort to bring science to everyone was inspiring.
  • 7:30 p.m. – Barriers were going up around campus in preparation for the eclipse. One man was taking selfies at the T-Rex.

Monday – The big day

  • 3:10 a.m. – There sure were a lot of cars running around at this time in the morning. Cars along the side of the road appeared to be where people stopped to rest. Thankfully Loaf-n-Jug had fresh coffee!
  • 3:25 a.m. – Good morning Fred! Fred Espenak, Mr. Eclipse and retired NASA astrophysicist, arrived at Casper College with 17 cameras. He was the keynote speaker at Astrocon 2017.
  • 3:45 a.m. – Scrambling to redo signs around campus damaged by the storm the day prior.
  • 4 a.m. – IT began arriving to fire up the wireless. The Astrocon viewing area was a great way to test new outdoor wireless access points with more secure public access. A nice conversation with a man from the Netherlands. He’s going to share his photos with us he says.
  • 4:30 a.m. – An army of electricians arrived on four-wheelers to begin shutting campus lights off. This was a big job they prepared for the week prior by going to every building on campus. Not a light came on during totality!
  • 6 a.m. – An estimated 100 people were already on campus preparing for the eclipse. Custodians were coming in with excitement for the day.
  • 7 a.m. – Helped a lot of people find their viewing spot. IT had the Science Channel, Associated Press, and KCWY set up for live feeds. Employees started to arrive. Everyone headed to the designated parking area for employees as planned. Vans shuttled employees around campus.
  • 7:30 a.m. – Cars lined up on Casper Mountain Road. The campus was opened earlier than expected. Sodexo was ready with food and drinks in four locations on campus.
  • 8 a.m.-9 a.m. – Cars arrived in a steady stream (although that started at 4 a.m.). The EI parking lot was filled. AG TV arrived to film for a documentary they were doing about the eclipse. Google was on campus filming their megamovie. The bookstore was open and ready to put CC apparel on anyone walking through their doors.
  • 9 a.m. – Dr. Herman and his team arrived at the Gertrude Krampert Theatre. KCWY TV arrived, and IT assisted them with their live feed connections. Another team was set up next to the T-Rex, and they mentioned they were doing a documentary. Juan is an engineer from San Diego and loves Casper College. He says maybe his son will consider coming here for school. We’re hoping so, Juan.
  • At some point – “Where can I buy one of those shirts?” The official Casper College t-shirt went to those working the event, so people knew who to speak with if they needed help. Designed by Laura Lucero in the Public Relations department, the eclipse logo and design is specific to the t-shirt, website and eclipse glasses from Casper College. Two photographers and a drone pilot captured the event for Casper College.
  • Russ Christensen and Dale Anderson organized a first aid station in the Swede Erickson Thunderbird Gym. Two EMTs scoured the campus outfitted with backpacks filled with first aid supplies.
  • Ashley Chadwick built and maintained the web page dedicated to the eclipse. She provided links to Megan’s and NASA’s live streaming of the event.
  • 10 a.m. – Rachel and Sarah Casey arrived from Colorado. They were both challenged in their absence from school by their teachers, Rachel in college and Sarah in high school, to write a paper about the eclipse. Casper College provided them with media passes and introduced them to people they could interview. Mark Hladik found one amateur astronomer struggling with his disability and helped him set up his equipment.
  • 10:30 a.m. – One Astrocon attendee shared his excitement with Sodexo staff by sharing his binoculars so they could view the sun one by one. Sodexo staff said, “Everyone is happy and so appreciative of us. They’re even taking our pictures!” Apparently eclipse viewings were typically in somewhat difficult places in the world. One Astrocon attendee said, “Starbucks coffee at an eclipse. I can’t believe it!”
  • 11 a.m. – Campus was really bustling. Telescopes lined Lisco Drive from the Walter H. Nolte Gateway Center to the McMurry Career Studies Center. Cars were parked along Casper Mountain Road from EI to Wyoming Blvd.
  • 11:15 a.m. – Megan’s team launches! The weather balloon quickly rises out of sight. A video of the balloon’s travels will be released at a later date. Expect incredible views!
  • 11:15 a.m. – It got noticeably cooler outside.
  • 11:42 a.m. – Totality. Indescribable. People were yelling with excitement, dancing, wow, ooh, ahh, people hugged, and an alien was sighted. One person narrated the event in one location. The hill to the south of the Gateway Center became a makeshift bleacher with the perfect view. NASA jets screamed past at high altitude. Paul Marquard was in Milliken Commons with a telescope, and up to 60 people gathered.
  • 12 Noon – An estimated 1,300 people were on campus to view the eclipse. Cars were beginning to leave. All entrances were opened. Lots of excitement was in the air. “Chance of a life time.” “Historic!” “Now I know what people get so excited about.”
  • Afternoon – Clean up began. Lots of energy on campus. Gushing reviews of Casper College. “The best eclipse I’ve ever been too.”
  • Congratulations Casper College!

Best Links
•    Great photos from Gene Blevins at the LA Daily News
•    Watch the Whole Total Solar Eclipse in 4 Minutes
•    See Drone Footage of the Total Solar Eclipse Plunging a City Into Darkness
•    Relive Totality at David Street Station With Our Webcam Timelapse (VIDEO) 
•    Casper Revels in the Majesty of the Total Solar Eclipse [VIDEO]
•    360◦ View
•    Airport Time-lapse Video
•    ABC News
•    Google Eclipse Megamovie

“It’s like nothing else you will ever see or ever do; it can be religious. It makes you feel insignificant like you’re just a speck in the whole scheme of things.” — amateur astronomer Mike O’Leary of San Diego in Casper, Wyoming. – Associated Press.

Media contact: Lisa S. Icenogle

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