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WKU professor describes plan for Great American Eclipse

While still more than a year away, WKU is already planning several educational outreach programs for the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse.

eclipse 2017Gordon Emslie, professor of Physics and Astronomy at WKU, outlined some of those plans during a news conference Thursday (June 2) in Boulder, Colorado, as part of the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division annual meeting.

“WKU is only a few miles from the point of maximum solar eclipse, and also a key stopping point on the I-65 artery, which will funnel hundreds of thousands of eclipse viewers from more northerly states into the area,” Dr. Emslie said.

WKU is planning to use Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium and the WKU Farm for a variety of educational and public outreach activities. “The campus and surrounding community have been preparing for this event for some time,” he said.

Observers along a path from Oregon to South Carolina will witness a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse with a path of totality spanning the continental United States from coast to coast. While most locations in the U.S. will be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse, only locations within a relatively narrow 50-mile-wide strip will experience the full spectacle and drama of a total solar eclipse. In Kentucky, the moon’s shadow will streak across the ground at about a thousand miles per hour, leading to a complete darkening of the sky for up to two and a half minutes at around 1:15 p.m. CDT.

WKU will participate in the Citizen CATE (Continental American Telescopic Eclipse) experiment, providing a 90-minute eclipse “movie” by overlapping observations from 60-plus observatories strung along the eclipse path. In addition, WKU’s student-operated Bell Observatory will be used to make images of the Sun’s corona in the infra-red part of the spectrum.

Information on the eclipse and WKU’s activities can be viewed at WKU’s eclipse website.

Contact: Gordon Emslie, (270) 745-4610

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