Rare total solar eclipse to occur August 21; Special program on subject at Wellington Library Saturday

by Amber Schmitz, Sumner Newscow — For the first time in decades, a total solar eclipse will occur in the United States on Monday, Aug. 21, but it will depend where you are to see “how much” of the eclipse you will see. People in Sumner County will view a partial eclipse.

A total solar eclipse will be seen by anyone within the path of totality, which stretches from Salem, Ore. to Charleston, S.C. If you wish to see a total eclipse in Kansas you need to drive north and east.The path travels through the very far NE corner of the Sunflower State, and the centerline passes right over Troy at 1:05:55 p.m. Folks there will enjoy two minutes and 38 seconds of totality. Other towns that will see totality include: Atchison, Hiawatha and Seneca. Leavenworth has about a minute and 30 seconds. Information about where to view the eclipse click here.

People in the Wellington area will be able to view a partial solar eclipse at approximately 11:36 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 21, and end at 2:32 p.m. that day, for a duration of two hours and 56 minutes. Remember, it won’t be a total solar eclipse here. A link to see what Wellington people will see is here.  A solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s shadow sweeps across the sun, and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere, the corona, can be seen. Those outside the path of totality will see a partial eclipse, in which the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.

This Saturday, a special program will be held at the Wellington Public Library in preparation of the eclipse. Guest speaker will be Jerelyn Ramirez of the Kansas Astronomical Observers, who will present a program about the solar eclipse from 10-11:30 a.m.

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe, except during the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse, while the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which happens only within the narrow path of totality. To safely view a partially eclipsed sun, you must use solar eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers. Ordinary sunglasses or homemade filters are not safe alternatives to those viewing options, as they produce thousands of times too much sunlight.

Ramirez will discuss how to safely view the solar eclipse, including how to use solar glasses and how to make a solar projector using a box or tube. If weather permits, she will share a solar projector and telescope with those in attendance. This event is part of the library’s ongoing “Second Saturday STEAM Spectacular” program. Solar viewing glasses will be given to patrons.

During the eclipse, the library will join more than 1,000 libraries across the nation to participate in the solar eclipse, the celestial event of the century. The library will offer public events from noon to 2 p.m. on Aug. 21. The library is a member of the STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net) and its NASA@MyLibrary project. The solar eclipse events are made possible through support from NASA Science Mission Directorate and the National Science Foundation.

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