NASA, National Geographic Teams headed this way for eclipse; Local K-12 Team also in place
Coverage of the August 2017 solar eclipse and related events is brought to you by Shoshone Rose Casino and Hotel.
(Lander, Wyo.) – Teams of scientists and observers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration-NASA, and National Geographic are headed to Fremont County to observe the August 21 Total Eclipse of the sun. In a presentation to the Rotary Club of Lander on Wednesday, Suki Smaglik said 54 such scientific teams will be spread out across the path of totality, from Oregon to South Carolina. Only one of those teams involves a K-12 Education component, and that team is right here in Fremont County.
Smaglik, now at Yakima Valley College in Washington, was a long-time professor at Central Wyoming College. She teamed up with local educators who are planning a high altitude balloon launch from the Shoshoni area to capture the eclipse with cameras from on high. She said the Wind River Eclipse Education Team, or WREET, will launch their balloon one hour before the eclipse so it will be in place during the event. The effort is being funded by a NASA Space Grant.
“Fremont County is one of the best locations to view the total eclipse, because of our predictable weather here, especially in the morning when the eclipse will be visible for two hours between 10:38 and 12:38 p.m.,” she said. The total eclipse, however, will only be visible along and either side of the center line which passes through Dubois, Crowheart, Pavillion and Shoshoni. Other locations in the county can view the partial eclipse. The total eclipse time ranges from 90 seconds to 2:40 seconds, depending on your location.
“There will be lots of science going on as this is the first eclipse to cross the entire country in the last 99 years,” Smaglik said. “Scientists will have the rare ability to study the solar corona, which usually isn’t visible because of the brightness of the star, but is visible in a total eclipse.”
Smaglik stressed that special eclipse sunglasses/viewers need to be worn to watch the event, or severe eye damage and blindness may result. “Sunglasses are not adequate, use only approved eclipse glasses/viewers, which are available right now countywide at many retailers or at the Lander Children’s Museum,” she said. “Always have the special viewers between you and the sun. If you wear regular glasses, put the eclipse viewers in front of your glasses.” She said if the special viewers have so much as a little hole in them, throw them away as sunlight could pierce and damage your eye through the hole. “If during the event you can see any light, then you need to have the viewers on.”
She also said since this is a very rare event, to enjoy it. “Let the professionals take the photos and you can download them or buy them later, enjoy viewing the event, it comes and goes very quickly.” She also said it is not recommended to point a camera directly at the sun without special lenses, “or you could burn out your phone or camera, too.”