Guest lectures offer new insights on eclipse

Various guest speakers gave their expertise on all things related to the eclipse and our solar system. Photo by: Kiley Wren

OSWEGO, N.Y. — Before the monumental solar eclipse, members of the Oswego community and visitors had the opportunity to learn more about various topics related to eclipses and physics through guest lectures. 

The lectures, which were held in the Richard S. Shineman Center on the SUNY Oswego campus, included both familiar faces to the campus and new. 

One of the first lectures to kick off the morning was from Martin Hendry, a professor of gravitational astrophysics and cosmology at the University of Glasgow.

Deeming himself as an “Einstein fanboy,” Hendry took a deep dive into Issac Newton and Albert Einstein’s theory and views on gravity and how they can relate back to the eclipse. 

According to Hendry, total solar eclipses are the only time people can view the bending of light from the sun due to gravity. 

“So this phenomenon, the bending of light due to gravity, we saw in a total solar eclipse in 1919,” Hendry said. “But it has now become a standard part of this story.” 

Hendry might have traveled far to an unfamiliar place, but as an Oswego alum, Earl Bellinger, an assistant professor at Yale University, was no stranger to the halls of Shineman. 

In his lecture, Bellinger discussed black holes and how much of a possibility there is of a black hole being inside the sun. 

Yoav Dekel, who traveled from New Jersey to view the eclipse in Oswego, said he was very interested in Bellinger’s lecture. 

“I’ve heard about him before,” Dekel said. “Since I am pretty interested in astrophysics.” 

Dekel has a brother who is currently studying at Binghamton University, which led him to finding Oswego and all the events happening on campus. 

“The school looked like a good option to view the eclipse,” Dekel said. “And it was in the path of my brother.” 

Dekel is not the only person to travel here for a special reason. 

Barbara Blaszak, a former history professor at Le Moyne college, came here not only for a good view of the eclipse, but also to support her friend Lynn Blanchard, who is a history professor at Oswego and another guest lecturer. 

“When I found out the path of totality was greater in Oswego than in Syracuse, I said ‘well I think I’ll spend the day up here,’” Blaszak said. 

Blanchard gave a little different perspective on eclipses in her lecture. 

“I thought I would contribute more to humanity’s approach to eclipses,” Blanchard said to kick off her lecture. 

As a history teacher, Blanchard discussed that many people and astronomers during the medieval times believed eclipses represented something greater and had many interpretations. 

Some believed it was a sign of evil or impending doom and it foreshadowed evil to come. 

Although all these experts come from different backgrounds and have different areas of expertise, they all share one thing in common, which is the fact they have all worked with Shasi Kanbur, who coordinated this event. 

“The lecturers I chose were all ones who were known to me personally,” Kanbur said. 

Other guest speakers included Sarbani Basu, another professor of astronomy at Yale University, who spoke about the sun; Anil Pradhan, an astronomy professor at Ohio State University who spoke on exoplanets; and a presentation on eclipse in ancient civilizations from one of SUNY Oswego’s honor classes.

Kanbur, a physics and earth science professor and the director of the astronomy program at Oswego, had begun planning this event last year. 

All of the guest speakers got to choose their topic, but the main goal of their lectures was more for outreach to the community rather than strictly a scientific lecture. 

“I hope they get inspired by science,” Kanbur said.