Astronomy Faculty to Lead Educational Celebration of Near-Total Solar Eclipse
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Monday, Aug. 21 is the first day of classes at the U of A, and in the middle of that day there will be a near-total eclipse of the sun across campus, Fayetteville – actually across most of the country.
Astronomy faculty and students are obviously excited about the event, and have already set up a website packed with information about the eclipse. They will also be holding an informal presentation at 4 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 17 in the Physics Building, Room 133 for everyone who wants to learn more.
Astronomers Dan and Julia Kennefick, who are associate professors in the physics department, will talk about the history of eclipses and what to expect in Fayetteville. Physics student Brett Bonine with the SPACE Hogs student organization will discuss his group’s plans for the day of the eclipse: hint – the group won’t be on campus.
On the day of the event the moon will begin to cover the sun over Fayetteville at 11:43 a.m., reaching 90.6 percent coverage at 1:13 p.m. The Associated Student Government will hold a free cookout on the Union Mall from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., and free glasses specially designed for viewing the eclipse will be given out, courtesy of the Pat Walker Health Center and Mertins Eye and Optical. Volunteers will also explain how to make sure you watch the eclipse without damaging your eyes.
The near-total eclipse will only last about two minutes, but the moon will continue to cover part of the sun until 2:41 p.m.
The U of A’s astronomers and astronomy students are travelling to Missouri and beyond to see the total eclipse for themselves.
The SPACE Hogs will be at Fulton High School, in Missouri, where they will set up stations with solar telescopes, solar binoculars or eclipse glasses to allow the students and the general public to safely view the eclipse. The SPACE Hogs will also be ready to field any questions and provide instruction on viewing the eclipse. In addition, they’ll help professor Tillman Kennon of Arkansas State University, who will be collecting data from an airborne balloon while members of the SPACE Hogs collect reference video and images of the eclipse from the ground. This event is funded by the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium, a program started by NASA.
The Kenneficks will also be observing the eclipse themselves along the path of the totality, wherever the weather is clearest. Their U of A colleague, assistant professor Bret Lehmer, will be in Sun Valley, Idaho at an American Astronomical Society conference located and timed for the best possible exposure to the total eclipse.
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