When students return to campus for the first day of classes this fall the universe will show its Maverick spirit with an once-in-a-lifetime “blackout” as the first total eclipse of the sun in more than 60 years passes over North America.
From approximately 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21, the earth will pass through the Moon’s shadow and, depending on where you live, result in various eclipse results.
That day, Omaha will experience 98 percent of totality. This means that while the sun will not entirely be covered, it will still significantly hide the sun’s rays and create a late-evening experience, approximately at 1 p.m., asthe Moon casts its maximum shadow and then exists the sun’s path.
At UNO, the Department of Physics is preparing for the unique event by planning multiple viewing opportunities for any interested students, faculty and staff.
From 11 a.m. through the end of the eclipse, UNO’s Mallory Kountze Planetarium will be open for observation, four separate telescopes will be set up along the south side of the Durham Science Center, two solar viewing screens projecting the eclipse will be set up and two observation stations will be establishing using colanders.
Krista Testin, who manages the planetarium, says there should be more than enough opportunities throughout the process for anyone interested in seeing the celestial phenomenon.
“It is incredibly important that anyone who wants to see the eclipse do so using proper safety precaustions,” she says. “Just because most the sun will be covered doesn’t mean it’s safe to look directly at it.”
For those unable to spend time at one of the observation stations, the Department of Physics is also planning to sell solar glasses that will protect people’s eyes for $1 during and prior to the eclipse.
Lecturer Dave Kriegler says that the event is so unusual that people began making travel plans more than a year ago to typically non-tourist destinations like Grand Island; Saint Joseph, Missouri; Casper, Wyoming; and Atchison, Kansas.
“There is really nothing that can compare to a total solar eclipse,” Lecturer David Kriegler says. “Depending on where you are at in the eclipse’s path, it will be dark enough to see some bright stars in the middle of the day, temperatures will drop and, in general, it will just be a very odd sensation for humans and animals alike.”
Prior to Aug. 21, members of the UNO Department of Physics will also host a pair of educational seminars for the public to discuss how people can safely observe the eclipse with solar glasses, a telescope and even their smart phones.
The free lectures will take place on Saturday, June 10, at 6 p.m. and Sunday, June 11, at 2 p.m. inside the Durham Science Center.
General Solar Eclipse Photo Tips
- Use A Proper Filter: NEVER look at the sun with the naked eye, or through a telescope, binoculars or camera viewfinder without a safe solar filter. Proper filters can be purchased inexpensively from a variety of camera or telescope companies.
- Camera Focal Length: To get the best image of the eclipse through your filtered camera, use a telescope or telephoto lens of at least 400 millimeters. This helps get detailed, close-up images.
- Use a High ISO Setting: The camera ISO should be set to 400 or higher to keep exposure times very short and avoids blurring.
- Pre-Focus Your Camera: If possible, use a bright star in the night sky to test your focus level and then use tape to keep the focus ring from moving.
- Take Test Shots: Use your filter to take test shots of the sun prior to the eclipse in order to avoid problems such as focusing, vibrations or reflections.
High Altitude Live Stream
In addition to the work on campus during the eclipse, the UNO-based Nebraska Space Grant is assisting the Nebraska High Altitude Ballooning Program and NASA scientists, who will be helping to live-streaming the eclipse from a height of up to 100,000 feet.
The teams will head to Grand Island, which is in the path of totality for the eclipse.
Local students will also work with the Nebraska Space Grant to launch balloons with experimental payloads and data collection equipment during the eclipse.
For more information on the eclipse taking place this August, visit the NASA website.