Rare solar eclipse brings educational opportunities to area residents.
Mother Nature may not be cooperative to be able to see the eclipse this Saturday, but the UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium is holding an eclipse viewing event from 11am to 1pm.
Back in the olden days, events like what’s happening would send people into a frenzy. In Nordic cultures, people blamed sky wolves for eating the sun, and in Vietnam it was a frog.
Obviously that’s not what’s going on here, but it is a rare occurrence, to the tune of once every 300 or so years for any given spot on the planet. That’s pretty rare.
Director of the UWM Planetarium, Jean Creighton, says even if we are in one of the best viewing locations in the U.S., it still isn’t a total eclipse,
“It’s an annular eclipse. So annular means that the moon sometimes changes its distance from us. But there are times in the orbit of the moon where the moon is farther than average. And when that’s the case, it doesn’t quite completely cover the sun. So there will be a portion of the sun that is still visible,” explains Creighton.
Also, DO NOT try to look up at an eclipse without proper eye protection.
Dr. Creighton says, “Eye doctors say they can tell by looking at your eye how damaged it is, whether you’ve been looking at the sun. It really does hurt your eyes. Don’t do it.”
Regardless of the weather, UWM’s Planetarium event will still go on.
“This is open to everybody in the community. It is free. We wanted to give people an opportunity to do this safely. We will provide free solar eclipse glasses so that people can look up. We also have telescopes that are equipped with a professional solar filter so it’s safe to see so people can see a more detailed view again safely. We are going to have the indoor planetarium programs in any case just to console ourselves because we’ve been planning this for two years. And also we hope to have a live feed in any case,” says Creighton.
But it’s not just people clamoring to see the moon take a bite out of the sun. There’s actually research being done at that moment that can only be done during an eclipse. This rare solar eclipse brings educational opportunities to the area.
Dr Creighton says, “When we can block the sun, then we see aspects of it that you can’t see otherwise, what we call the corona. That’s a very active area of research right now.”
We’ve still got tons to learn about our closest star. And every once in a while, the heavens throw us a little bone and lines everything up so we can do just that.
For more information about the event, click here.