Unless you’ve been living outside of North America, you are almost certainly aware that on August 21, there will be a total solar eclipse visible across the entire continent. Since Macon is relatively close to the path of totality, we will come tantalizing near to experiencing a total eclipse. So what should we expect to see?
The entire top portion of the sun will be covered by the moon, with only a thin sliver of the sun peeking out at the bottom. The sky will turn a noticeably deeper shade of blue, similar to what one might see near sunset, but will not go completely dark.
This tiny bit of the sun that’s still left will produce enough light to prevent us from seeing the sun’s corona, as well as the other effects that are associated with totality, but if you look away from the sun we should still be able planets in the darkened sky. To the east of the Sun we should be able to see Jupiter as a faint point of light, while about 45 degrees to the west of the Sun, Venus will appear brightly.
That tiny sliver of light at the bottom of the sun will also be more than enough to damage your eyes, so ALWAYS be sure to only view the sun safely. Options include eclipse shades, Sunspotters, or cameras and telescopes with ISO-approved solar filters.
The College has distributed 600 eclipse shades to students, staff, and faculty, so that everyone on campus will have an opportunity to view the eclipse safely. On Friday the 18th, at 2:30 PM in Taylor Hall Amphitheatre there will be a seminar on “How to Survive the Solar Eclipse” examining superstitions and myths (old, new and very new) that surround solar eclipses and how a knowledge of basic astronomy can calm these eclipse generated fears. Opportunities for safely viewing the eclipse on campus and participating in NASA sponsored “citizen science” will also be discussed.
On Monday, August 21st, weather permitting, we will have four folded path solar telescopes, called Sunspotters, set up to provide a closer view of the eclipse. On the roof of the Munroe Science Center, our two Coronado solar telescopes will be set up to provide a view of the sun, providing an opportunity to observe prominences and other structure on the solar surface.
Rain or shine, there will be an eclipse party from 2-3 PM on the second floor and balconies of the Munroe Science Center, featuring two additional Sunspotters, a livestream of the eclipse from the path of totality, and most importantly, cupcakes and ice cream to cool off anyone who’s been standing out in the heat!
See you there!