Safely observe solar eclipse, hear from experts at Physics Department viewing event

Special eclipse-viewing glasses with the GVSU Physics Department logo sit on a table.
The Physics Department is offering these glasses as one way to safely view the solar eclipse.

The Physics Department is hosting a solar eclipse viewing event on the Allendale Campus April 8 to help attendees safely view the phenomenon and share the wonder while learning more about it.

The viewing event will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in front of the Kirkhof Center. GVSU Physics experts will be on hand to provide information at the beginning of the event and prior to the maximum coverage, which occurs around 3:11 p.m.

Organizers will provide ways for attendees to safely observe the eclipse, including glasses, solar telescopes and a pinhole camera, since it is not safe to look directly at the sun during the eclipse. The event is weather dependent.

According to the Physics Department, the maximum coverage of this area of 93.2% will occur at 3:11 p.m. The partial eclipse starts at 1:55 p.m., and then the partial eclipse ends at 4:24 p.m.

Experiencing this rare event is special, and even more so since the next solar eclipse covering this much of North America and the United States won't occur again until 2045, said Richard Vallery, department chair.

While totality – which will be closest to this area in Ohio – typically brings a temperature drop and a stirring of nocturnal animals, those types of effects won't be as profound here, Vallery said. But the moments of maximum coverage will still be amazing.

During an event like this, Vallery also likes to ponder how "this is a large-scale celestial interaction on a scale that we don't normally think of." The size of the celestial bodies, the orbits, the angles, the alignments all play a role in an event that is remarkable, he said.

"It's this brief moment in time where celestial bodies all interact in a way to produce an event that's kind of fleeting," Vallery said. "It just helps you think about the majesty of the solar system."


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