Photo Credit Jan Garrison
The moon will cover 87 percent of the sun
August 16, 2017

Angela Osterman Meyer, Ph.D., is planning a watch party. And everyone at Culver Academies is invited.

But it won’t involve a sporting event or rock concert or movie premiere. And, instead of turning up the spotlights, the biggest spotlight of all will be dimmed by 87 percent.

Meyer, the astronomy instructor at Culver Academies, is preparing for the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21. The moon will pass in front of the sun as it crosses the United States from the northwest to the southeast. The event will run from approximately 1 to 3:45 p.m., with Culver experiencing 87 percent coverage of the sun by the moon at 2:22 p.m.

“There will be a noticeable change, even if it is cloudy,” she said.

But, she warned, people should not be staring into the sky – especially at the sun – trying to see the eclipse. Even conventional sun glasses do not offer enough protection. There are special solar glasses available, but with fakes and counterfeits being sold, Meyer said the safest way to find certified safety glasses is check the list on the NASA website (below).

(For more on the eclipse, go to NASA.gov/eclipse)

Twenty pairs of special solar glasses have been distributed to each of the dorms and units for the students to use, with additional pairs being available from either Meyer or Kathy Talbot in student life. There will also be two specially equipped 10-inch diameter telescopes set up between the Roberts Hall of Science and Benson Dorm for people to get an up-close look at the eclipse.

People can also make pinhole cameras and even use Ritz crackers held in front of a white postcard to watch the image of the eclipse. It will also be televised live on NASA.gov/eclipse website. Along with the observing the event, NASA and other scientific groups like GLOBE Observer are asking citizens to participate in “citizen science” experiments and submit their findings.

The data these groups are seeking includes the change in temperature during the duration of the eclipse, she said. The temperature variation will depend on the humidity. If Monday is humid, the temperature will not drop as much if it dry. However, there should be a measurable drop in either case.

Meyer will be going into more detail during two special public talks at 10:30 a.m. and noon on Saturday at Culver/Union Twp. Public Library. The library will have solar glasses for the general public and will be hosting a viewing event Monday as well.

And, for those people who miss the eclipse Monday, Meyer said they really won’t have to wait that long (scientifically speaking) for the next one. The next total solar eclipse crossing North America will be April 8, 2024, and it will reach 100 percent totality in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. Culver is predicted to reach 98 percent totality.

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