GSC Chemistry Professor Leads Campus Community in Solar Eclipse Experience

Photo courtesy of  Peter Jurik -
Photo courtesy of Peter Jurik -

By Karolina Philmon, GSC marketing manager 

Dr. Schmude, professor of chemistry at Gordon State College, will hold a special gathering for curious spectators to witness the partial solar eclipse on Monday, April 8. Attendees will be able to view the eclipsed sun through a special sun spotter in front of the Barnesville campus Instructional Complex building. 

The sun spotter, an instrument utilizing lenses and mirrors, projects a 3.5-inch image of the sun, enabling safe observation. It eliminates the necessity for purchasing eclipse glasses. However, Schmude emphasizes the importance of never looking directly at the sun without certified eclipse glasses.

Across Middle Georgia, a partial solar eclipse is expected to be visible from approximately 1:45 p.m. to around 4:22 p.m., with over 70% of the sun blocked by the moon at around 3 p.m. Schmude will have the sun spotter set up and ready at 1:40 p.m., and it will remain available, weather permitting, until 3:30 p.m.

Schmude encourages campus attendees to capture images of tree and bush shadows at the 3 p.m. mark during the partial solar eclipse. He said several small crescents should be visible.

“I remember being fascinated by the tree shadows over 30 years ago during a partial solar eclipse at Texas A&M University. During the 2017 solar eclipse, the temperature of the sidewalk dropped over 15 degrees Fahrenheit because of the eclipse,” Schmude said.

Schmude recommends the Astronomical Almanac as the top resource for solar eclipse information.

“What captivates me about the solar eclipse is the profound dependence our planet has on the sun,” Schmude said.

Schmude began teaching at GSC in September of 1994, when the college was on the quarter system and known as Gordon College. Next month, in May, he will mark 30 years at GSC. He began as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1994 and then began teaching astronomy a few months later in the summer of 1995.

According to Schmude, the best aspect of his profession is striking a balance between teaching and research. He allocates part of his class time to lectures and the rest to practical problem-solving. He finds satisfaction in ensuring that his students do not feel completely lost by the end of the class. His goal for his students is to grasp the material and succeed in future classes and life.

“The research that I have done at GSC has kept me young mentally,” Schmude said. “I enjoy reading about what others have done. This gives me a better perspective of how my work fits into the big picture of scientific progress.”