ERAU and Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center teamed up to offer a guided eclipse viewing for children in the hospital.
Zachery Attar of Ormond Beach “escaped” his room in the pediatric wing at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center to witness the eclipse of the sun on Monday.
Children, their families, and many adults gathered in the hospital’s 12th floor board room to be treated to a special viewing of the eclipse, led by Dr. Jason Aufdenberg, coordinator of astronomy undergraduate program at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for people to learn more about the sun and the moon,” Aufdenberg said. “This is an example of science making predictions you can test. We’ve known for years in advance, to the minute, when this would occur.”
In between covering their eyes with protective glasses to view the 88% eclipse over Daytona Beach, the group watched the eclipse progress across the country, on the two large-screen TVs tuned to the NASA broadcast.
As the room watched Hopkinsville, Kentucky go into full eclipse, Aufdenberg said, “That will be like here in 2045 when there will be a total eclipse in Daytona Beach.”
Aufdenberg talked about seeing his first eclipse in a small town of 800 in Idaho when he was 9 years old, and how his mother would take him out to watch the meteor showers. All part of making him who he is today.
“Before the eclipse I thought space was a place you went to, not studied,” he said. “It was the end of the Apollo missions.”
Noah Maronde, was allowed to shorten his day at Hinson Middle School to attend, and help at the event, with his father Dan Maronde, a professor of physical science at ERAU.
“Volusia County said the kids could stay home today, but he didn’t want to miss anything,” Dan Maronde said. “He left early to be here.”
The viewing not only attracted the youngsters, but also nurses, like Karen Browning who attended during her break with her husband Dan.
Dan Browning made a pin-hole viewer out of a long tube to view the event safely.
“I didn’t know if they were going to have glasses, so I made this,” Browning said.
Nicole Baxa, Children specialist in the ER and pediatrics, said the opportunity for the children to get out of their hospital rooms to see the event was special.
“This really gave some joy,” Baxa said. “One of the children hadn’t been out of his room for 12 days and was happy to get out to do this.”
Along with the protective (and hard to find) glasses, the ERAU staff brought crayons, small beach balls and other treats for the children. The hospital supplied snacks for the event – moon pies and sun chips.