LAWRENCE — As the first day of University of Kansas classes and the paths of the sun and moon intersect during a rare solar eclipse Aug. 21, KU will host an eclipse celebration on campus.
Organized by the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the KU Natural History Museum, the Eclipse at KU will be offered from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Shenk Sports Complex near Higuchi Hall. The Shenk soccer fields border Iowa and 23rd streets in Lawrence.
The eclipse will peak at approximately 1:10 p.m. Lawrence will experience 99.3 percent coverage, meaning the sun will be covered 99.3 percent by the moon. If it is a sunny day, it will be somewhat like dusk at midday.
“We recognized that on the first day of classes, many people will have work, school or classes that don’t allow them to go further north to experience a 100 percent eclipse, or totality,” said Barbara Anthony-Twarog, professor of physics and astronomy. “We want to provide astronomers, telescopes and activities to celebrate the eclipse on campus.”
It’s never safe to look at the sun directly without special eclipse glasses. KU purchased 15,000 pairs of glasses for KU students and staff that will be distributed on campus in the days prior to and the day of the eclipse. Locations and announcements about distribution points will be announced via university social media.
To help K-12 students in Lawrence view the eclipse, the physics & astronomy department, the KU School of Engineering, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the Natural History Museum purchased and distributed 11,000 pairs of eclipse glasses to the students and teachers of USD 497 public schools in Lawrence. Hundreds of pairs of glasses also will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the eclipse celebration at Shenk Sports Complex.
The public is welcome at the event. The Shenk Sports Complex is on the KU bus route and accessible on foot. Limited parking will be available near Higuchi Hall. The event will be held rain or shine.
Highlights of the Eclipse at KU:
- Telescopes and astronomers on hand to help people learn about the eclipse.
- Food trucks such as Kona Ice and Ad Astra Food Trucks will offer food and cool treats for purchase.
- Lawrence Public Library, the Spencer Museum of Art and the KU Natural History Museum will offer activities such as an opportunity to decorate and launch water bottle rockets.
- Eclipse viewing glasses will be available while they last.
Total eclipses are rare for any one location, Anthony-Twarog said. There are two to five lunar or solar eclipses each year on earth, but not all are total, and the path of a total eclipse is small, less than 100 miles across. About 375 years on average pass between two solar eclipses at any one particular location.
Photo: Solar eclipse of Jan. 15, 2010, in Jinan, the People's Republic of China. Image via Wikicommons.