Local colleges plan public solar eclipse viewing events

MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - The countdown is on.

Dr. Dean Hirschi, a physics professor at Washington State Community College, is excited for Monday's solar eclipse.

"These things don't happen all that often," he said.

The public is invited to view the eclipse at the college.They can watch from the lawn outside of "The Commons," the school's student union. Eclipse viewing glasses will be given to the first 100 watchers. The lawn will feature special telescopes to view the natural phenomenon. A live feed of the eclipse will be shown on a 14-foot LED television screen inside the union. The viewing events are open to the public and take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Monday.

The eclipse falls on the first day of classes for Washington State Community College students. Hirschi says this is a great way to kick off the school year.

"It would be nice to have things for them to kind of do so we wanted to have something special for them and take advantage of the wonderful opportunity that nature provided."

As students head back to classes at the community college, Marietta College students still have a week left of summer by the time the solar eclipse rolls around. But that hasn't stopped school officials from planning eclipse events.

Dr. Ann Bragg, the director of the Anderson Hancock Planetarium at Marietta College, is planning a public viewing party at the school.

She says this is the closest she's ever gotten to seeing a total solar eclipse.

"This time we're going to see about 86% of the sun's disc covered up by the moon which should be fairly dramatic not as dramatic as seeing a total eclipse but we are close enough to the path that we're going to see something pretty interesting here," she said.

The party takes place outside the Anderson Hancock Planetarium from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday. Special eclipse glasses will be handed out.

The last time a solar eclipse stretched from coast to coast was back in 1918.

Hirschi says it's not only historic but "hopefully a sense of wonder a sense of the excitement of science and how fun and how exciting it can be it doesn't necessarily need to be dry and boring it can be cool and exciting and wonderful."

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