Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you probably know there’s a solar eclipse coming up on August 21. But, you probably don’t know just what to expect – particularly if you’re planning to stay in Topeka.
That’s why Dr. Mark Smith of the Washburn University Department of Physics and Astronomy is giving a public lecture next Monday, August 7 at 6:30 p.m. in Room 100 at Henderson Hall on the Washburn University Campus. Smith’s presentation will show you exactly what you can expect if you travel an hour or so north to be right in the center of the path of totality and what you can expect to see here in Topeka. He’ll also be reviewing how you can safely view the eclipse and protect your eyes.
“Even though Topeka isn’t right under the center of the total eclipse, it will still be an impressive site,” Smith said. “We’ll be seeing between 95 and 99% of a total eclipse so it will get noticeably dark as the moon blocks most of the sun.”
He noted, however, that there is still considerable energy coming around the edge of the moon – energy which can easily damage your eyesight if you stare at the sun for too long.
“The only safe way to view the eclipse is with special glasses made just for that purpose,” Smith said. “Regular sunglasses aren’t enough – even if they are particularly dark ones.”
Smith also noted that Washburn is hosting a public viewing event in Yager Stadium on August 21 starting at 11 a.m. The eclipse will reach its maximum just after 1 p.m. The university will be providing 6,000 viewing glasses to attendees on a first come, first served basis. There are plans to move the event inside the Memorial Union and watch a live feed from PBS if the weather fails to cooperate.
“For many of us, this is the first time in our lifetime we’ve had a chance to see a total eclipse in the continental United States,” Smith said. “But we’re lucky enough that there is another in 2024. But I wouldn’t miss the chance to see this one for anything.”