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The Great American Solar Eclipse Aug. 21

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By Alicia Dziak

On Monday, Aug. 21, a solar eclipse will occur. It will be the first time since 1979 that any part of the continental U.S. has experienced a total solar eclipse. While this scientific event will be best seen in its totality along the path from Oregon to South Carolina, Western New Yorkers will still be able to witness a partial solar eclipse.

According to www.buffaloeclipse.org, “A solar eclipse happens when the moon, as seen by us on Earth, passes directly in front of the sun. Once each month, the moon makes a complete orbit (or revolution) around the Earth.  The changing angle of sunlight on the moon causes the waxing and waning of the moon’s phases.

“…Even though the sun is much larger than the moon, the two bodies are at just the right distances to make them appear to be the same size in our sky.  This means that the bright yellow disk of the sun, known as the photosphere, can be blocked revealing the sun’s atmosphere which is called the corona.  When this happens, a beautiful ring of light appears, the stars are visible in the middle of the day, birds stop chirping because they think it is night time, and people experience a few minutes of eerie “totality” darkness in the middle of the day.”

On Monday, Aug. 21, Western New Yorkers will be able to witness about 75 percent of the sun obscured by the moon. The partial eclipse will begin about 1:11 p.m., last about two hours and 39 minutes, with the maximum occurring at 2:33 p.m.

If you’re interested in getting the most out of the experience, several local venues will be hosting special events to celebrate.

Check out Eclipse-O-Rama at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library Central Branch. This event on Saturday, Aug. 19, includes free family activities, crafts, demos about the sun, planets and astronomy! For more info, visit www.buffalolib.org.

Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium at Buffalo State College will be offering special programming Saturdays at 6 and 7:30 p.m. through Aug. 26. The 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse is a presentation about the mythology, history, and science of eclipses with a focus on this year’s eclipse. This program will also discuss how the partial eclipse will look from Buffalo, where you can go in the area for special viewing opportunities, and how there will be a total solar eclipse in Buffalo in 2024. It concludes with a 10-minute tour of the constellations, planets, and other celestial objects in the night sky. Total program is approximately 45 minutes long.

All attendees get a free pair of eclipse glasses to safely view the eclipse.

Buff State will also host the Eclipse View and Do on Aug. 21 from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Free and open to the public (park in the R-14 Lot on Rockwell Road), the event will include safe eclipse viewing (telescopes with solar filters and free eclipse glasses) as well as fun and educational activities, astronomy activities, food trucks and more. For more info, visit www.fergusonplanetarium.net.

Head to Penn-Dixie, Aug. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m., where there will be extra telescopes on site, fun hands-on astronomy activities for all ages, and free solar viewing glasses for the first 1,000 guests. Admission will be free for members and $4 for the public. No pre-registration needed. For more info, visit penndixie.org.

While the partial eclipse can be seen from just about anywhere, it’s important to view it safely. Be sure to read up on the safety precautions of viewing at www.buffaloeclipse.org.

Natural beauty and science come together on Aug. 21—take advantage of this unique opportunity!

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