Community Gathers on Campus for Solar Eclipse 

As the Masters community joined with most of North America to view the solar eclipse on April 8, Eli Goldfine ’30 knew he had to shoot for the stars.
Goldfine, Masters’ resident sixth grade astronomer, invited Bob Kelly, vice president for field events for Westchester Amateur Astronomers, and retired air pollution meteorologist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and aerospace education coordinator in Civil Air Patrol, to speak to upper and middle school students about this big celestial event. 

“Mr. Kelly mentioned once that he was an eclipse ambassador for NASA, which is the program they set up where they have amateur astronomers connect with college students to do eclipse outreach,” explained Goldfine, who chairs the youth division of the Westchester Amateur Astronomers organization, where Kelly works. “So I looked on their eclipse ambassadors directory, contacted him and he agreed to come to Masters.”

“Eli was the mastermind behind all of it!” said Dana McNamee, upper and middle school science department chair. “Eli presented to both divisions and brought in a great guest speaker.”

While Dobbs Ferry wasn’t in the path of totality, the school community gathered on Greene Family Field and the Quad that afternoon to witness the rare natural phenomenon together.

Upper school math and physics teacher Pascal Maharjan recognized what an amazing teachable experience this would be for his students.

“Even though our unit on astronomy isn’t till the end of the semester, we briefly delved into what made these events special,” he explained. “In geometry, as well, we didn’t shy away from acknowledging the historical implications of what makes eclipses an important time for scientists and scientific observations and data collection.”

McNamee found the eclipse to be “far more incredible than I had given it credit for previously.”  She felt the community came together in an “extraordinarily special” way and noted “what an amazing thing to witness it on the field with everyone.”

Maharjan agreed. “Any time one gets to witness a rare cosmic event, I feel like the experience is humbling. It is a reminder of how insignificant we are - and that it’s important to not sweat the little stuff too much.”

On the big day, Goldfine traveled with his father to Dallas and was wowed by the experience: 90 seconds of total darkness. “It was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen,” he said.

Meanwhile as talk turned to the next solar eclipses coming in 2044 and 2045, the young stargazer was glad to have shared his pastime with the School. “I hope this eclipse has inspired some Masters students to do some more research about astronomy and hopefully get interested in it.”

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