MY PATH TO THE PATH OF TOTALITY by Marcin Chojnowski, Eclipse Intern


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Adventure Science Center Blog

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MY PATH TO THE PATH OF TOTALITY by Marcin Chojnowski, Eclipse Intern

I remember it like it was yesterday… 

The year was 2013, and I was an undergraduate physics student at Northeastern Illinois University sitting in a small lecture room. All ten members of my class were listening to an astrophysics lecture about the Moon and, incidentally, eclipses. 

Our professor went through lecture slides describing different types of eclipses and the celestial geometry of why they happen, when I started wondering when the next total solar eclipse will happen near the United States. Mid-lecture, I looked it up and saw the 2017 map for the first time, not knowing how familiar I would eventually become with this eclipse. I studied the path of totality, looking for the point that was closest to my home in Chicago. 

I recall promising myself, “I don’t know where I’ll be 4 years from now, but I do know for certain that I will end up somewhere in that path of totality.” 

That night, I continued looking for more information regarding the 2017 total solar eclipse and even dwelled on it for a few days after. I vividly remember sitting with the physics department chair not long after learning about the aptly named Great American Eclipse and telling him, “I have to see this. I don’t know where I’ll be, but I must experience this.” My professor responded, “We’ll see down the line; you’re on the right path so far.”

Fast forward to early 2017, almost a year after receiving my bachelor’s degree in physics. I happened to be looking for new opportunities related to physics and astronomy when I came across a position that caught my eye… “Eclipse Intern” at Adventure Science Center in Nashville. 

For the first time in a while, I referenced back to the 2017 solar eclipse map and noticed Nashville was in the path of totality. I remembered the conversation with my professor from a few years ago and thought to myself, “What do I have to lose? I have an experience of a lifetime to gain from this!”

The gears started turning, I applied for the position and I ended up accepting the position. Within a short amount of time, I had to find a place to live and get down to Nashville, but luckily for me, everything worked out. Before my departure for Nashville, I stopped by my Alma Mater to see some familiar faces and share the good news. Right as I was about to leave, I ended up running into my professor and I couldn’t wait to share my excitement over this opportunity.

“Remember when you came to me a few years ago telling me that you were going to see the total solar eclipse?” my professor asked. “Like it was yesterday,” I responded, “It’s funny how the world works itself out, isn’t it?”

- Marcin Chojnowski, Eclipse Intern

Posted by Molly Hornbuckle at 3:00 PM
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