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Don’t miss nature’s wonder

While some readers may have already reached “2017 Eclipse overload” we hope most are looking forward to basking in the shadow of the moon Monday afternoon.

The Marietta area falls outside of the “totality zone” stretching coast to coast from Oregon to South Carolina, but that doesn’t mean residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley won’t enjoy the show. We will experience a partial eclipse, with the process beginning about 1 p.m. achieving our maximum 86 percent eclipse about 2:30 p.m.

Events like this are few and far between. According to reports, the next total solar eclipse will fall April 8, 2024, with a totality path stretching from Texas to Maine. The next eclipse to stretch coast to coast won’t occur until 2045. The last time a total eclipse cut a path across our nation was 1918.

This is certainly one of those “teachable” moments and the schools already in session plan to do just that. Students at Belpre, Williamstown and St. Mary School in Marietta all have plans to get kids viewing the eclipse safely.

The general public can get in on the fun, too:

– Marietta College is hosting a public viewing from 1 to 4 p.m. in the area between the Rickey Science Center, Fayerweather Hall and the Brown Petroleum Engineering Building. The viewing is free, and pinhole cameras, a solar telescope and eclipse safety glasses will be available.

– Washington State Community College is hosting a public viewing from 1 to 4 p.m. in the lawn outside of The Commons where NASA approved viewing glasses will be provided to the first 100 watchers. Others can observe from inside The Commons by watching video of the eclipse on the college’s new 14-foot television screen.

If you plan to view on your own, but didn’t get a chance to pick up a pair of eclipse safety glasses, you can still “view” the event safely.

At Eclipse2017.nasa.gov you can learn how to view the eclipse through pinhole projection. That’s a method of projecting the sunlight through the hole onto a surface and watching the projected image change. Viewers are warned to avoid looking directly into the sun because doing so even briefly can damage your eyes.

With every eclipse, scientists learn more about the sun and its impact on the earth. Much research is planned this time around, including a NASA funded mission to have two research planes follow the eclipse along part of its path. Another project will study the earth’s upper atmosphere during the eclipse, and still other scientists will be observing plants and animals.

Science aside, we hope readers will simply choose to experience one of nature’s wonders from right here at home.

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