Relatively rare solar eclipse to draw viewers in stadium

The December 2011 partial solar eclipse captured by Carlos Zelayeta at San Martín Station, Antarctica. Shared courtesy Creative Commons.

On Sunday, May 20, Coloradans will see a “bite” taken out of the sun as the moon moves across the sun causing a partial solar eclipse. The eclipse starts at 6:22 p.m. with maximum eclipse at 7:30 p.m. and the sun will set at 7:50 p.m.

The celestial event will mark the most complete solar eclipse the U.S. has seen in more than 10 years, according to Douglas Duncan, director of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Fiske Planetarium. The planetarium is hosting an eclipse-viewing event at Folsom Field on the CU-Boulder campus from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on May 20.

In order to provide the best viewing angles, attendance for the event is limited to 13,000 inside the stadium. The event will be held regardless of weather, except severe thunderstorms, and viewing cannot be guaranteed.

Admission is free for anyone who has already purchased eclipse-watching glasses for $2 at Boulder’s McGuckin Hardware or Fiske Planetarium. Admission on the day of the event is also $2, which includes a pair of eclipse glasses. Supplies are limited and pre-purchase is recommended.

An expo at the event will include the Colorado Center for Lunar Dust and Atmospheric Studies from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, CU Science Discovery and Space Weather Prediction Center. Educational videos, water rocket demonstrations and a commentary on the eclipse will be presented in the stadium. There will also be door prizes and trivia contests.

Amateur photographers wishing to capture the eclipse should either use a solar filter designed for their camera, or place eclipse-viewing glasses over the lens. Just as direct viewing of the sun would injure the human eye, the light sensors in cameras would be overwhelmed and damaged by the exposure.

Anyone with protective eyewear and a clear view of the western horizon can watch the eclipse from the location of their choice. The inexpensive glasses designed for eclipse viewing are much darker than regular sunglasses, and provide appropriate protection for viewing solar events. For comparison, the same protection is also available from the very darkest type of welder’s eye protection, rated 14 on a 1 through 14 scale.

The Boulder Reservoir recreation area will offer a special entry fee and time for solar eclipse viewing. After 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, there will be a $5 per car entrance fee for people to come in and enjoy the eclipse, and the reservoir will stay open until 8 p.m.

—CU Office of News Services

May 2012

 

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