Paducah, KY (August 21, 2017) – The Zlopogorski family traveled by plane, train and
car for over 22 hours from their home in Jerusalem to see the total solar eclipse
at West Kentucky Community and Technical College’s Night at Noon event Monday.
“We started planning this one year ago in August. I read many, many sites and I somehow
reached Paducah, ...we thought this was the best place for us,” said Krassi Zlopogorski.
Being the best place to view the eclipse was the overall feeling of the nearly 3,000
visitors, students, faculty and staff at WKCTC’s eclipse party.
Those who attended WKCTC’s Night at Noon, an official NASA viewing site, joined the
millions across the United States who had their eyes to the skies as they witnessed
the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire country, coast-to-coast, since 1918, according to NASA’s website.
“I’ve wanted to see an eclipse for years. I missed the one several years ago in the UK,” said Claire Brooks of Sheffield, England,
who also traveled over 20 hours to be in Paducah for the big day. “Everyone has been
brilliant since we arrived. To be part of a community event like this is great!”
Paducah residents were also over the moon to have the Night at Noon event in their
“It’s so exciting that we get to experience it here and we didn’t have to go anywhere
else,” said Carolyn Holm.
Paducah’s Tim Bonner agreed. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, he added that
family had come from Alabama to join and his sister, Barbara Allen, also of Paducah.
“It’s a family affair for us,” Allen said.
Dr. Anton Reece, WKCTC president, said he was proud to host the view of the total
solar eclipse on the college’s campus. “As a higher education institution, an event
provides a rare opportunity to educate our guests about the solar system,” Dr. Reece
said. “It was truly exciting and memorable to watch the expressions of our students
and faculty, K-12 and community members in attendance at this historic event.”
Former astronaut and Kentucky native Colonel Terry Wilcutt was Night at Noon’s eclipse
emcee. He spoke with area middle and high school students and visitors about his space experiences,
NASA’s current programs, and the concepts behind the awe-inspiring cosmic event.
“We (NASA Educational Outreach) like anything that makes people think about science, Wilcutt said. “That will hopefully inspire some of the kids and others to
STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers.”
Wilcutt has been a special guest at Paducah’s Challenger Learning Center many times,
including the day the center opened in August 2002. Monday’s visit and participation
in Night at Noon offered something new for him.
“This was my first total solar eclipse, and being part of the educational process
on campus was an honor for me really, especially for me here back in my home state.”
Visitors enjoyed fun activities, music, science demonstrations, great food from local
vendors, and had the opportunity to see the NASA high altitude balloon launch. The
launch, conducted by a team of students and faculty from Kentucky Space Grant Consortium
at Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC), and a team from the University
of Connecticut, was as part of a nationwide, NASA-sponsored project to live-stream
aerial video footage of the “Great American Eclipse.” From the cameras mounted in
the balloon that traveled up to 100,000 feet into the air, footage from the camera,
and the many other launches from teams across the country, will be available for public
viewing on NASA’s website, nasa.gov.
Jessica Glasscock, a BCTC junior majoring in environmental science technology said
being at one of the sister colleges (BCTC and WKCTC are two of the 16 colleges in
the Kentucky Community and Technical System) for this project was great.
“We’ve been working really hard for the past year to get this event up and going,
and it’s really exciting,” said Glasscock. “This is so important because the last
time a solar eclipse happened in Kentucky the video cameras were not able to go up
in space, so this is literally a once in a lifetime chance for me personally. I don’t
think I’ll ever get to do anything like this again.”
Night at Noon Chairperson and Challenger Learning Center at Paducah (CLC) Director
Mellisa Duncan was thrilled with Monday’s Night at Noon event, a culmination of a
year’s planning with the event committee.
“I want to thank the committee, college employees and all the volunteers that helped make Night at Noon so successful. We've been planning for over a year and are happy we had great event!”
“Our Night at Noon eclipse event also aligned with our education mission to promote
and raise awareness about careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math
(STEAM), such as the curriculum taught at our CLC,” said Reece. “Last, I would like
to thank all of our Night at Noon volunteers, Paducah Police department, and other
emergency response agencies.”
A short video of the day’s events can see it at: https://youtu.be/D7lXWVIdlXA
A short video of the some of our guests can be seen at: https://youtu.be/26FomOgPRR0