Dark shadows: solar eclipse

Monday, Aug. 21 will be the first day of classes at Richland and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many. A total solar eclipse will take place across the United States and Dallas will be in the line of partial visibility.

Heather Appleby, physics and astronomy instructor at Richland, said, “Unless you are in Dallas on April 8, 2024 you may not ever get another chance in your lifetime to see a solar eclipse.”

During the eclipse, the moon will move between the Earth and the sun. Although the sun is much larger than the moon, they will appear to be the same size from our vantage point during the eclipse. Ninety-nine percent of the U.S. population will experience the eclipse to some extent. Dallas will experience a 76.3 percent coverage. In 2024, Dallas will experience a total eclipse.

A life long astronomy lover, Appleby will host a public viewing of the eclipse from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. near the walking trail south of Guadalupe Hall. According to Appleby, the eclipse will reach peak coverage around 1:10 p.m. The solar eclipse is an event most people will never witness again. Appleby says we should be considered lucky to witness such a rarity.

NASA is enlisting the help of amateur scientists to gather data on the environment during the eclipse through observation and reporting. It’s an opportunity for students to get involved.

The Globe Observer smartphone app was designed through the NASA-supported research program Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment, better known as GLOBE. Students and the public are encouraged to make environmental observations and collect data which will then be made available to students and scientists all over the world.

“Practice safe astronomy,” cautions Appleby. “Don’t look at the sun without protection.”

A limited number of safe viewing glasses will be available during the event, but Appleby encourages those interested to take additional measures to protect their eyesight. Tips on how to safely view the eclipse can be found athttps://eclipse.aas.org/imaging-video/images-videosand https://eclipse.aas.org/.