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Physics department instructs Retirees Association on August eclipse, safety

As the APSU physics and astronomy department prepares for the solar eclipse to occur in August, they are busy informing students, faculty and the community about the historical event.

On Aug. 21, 2017 a solar eclipse will occur in Clarksville. While areas such as Nashville will also experience totality, Clarksville will experience the totality for longer, roughly 23 seconds longer. As a result, institutions from around the globe have organized with APSU’s Physics department for this historic astronomical event.

“We are the only country on earth that gets to see the total eclipse. This is why it is called The Great American Eclipse,” astronomy professor Spencer Buckner said.

Buckner gave a presentation on the eclipse to the APSU Retirees Association, APSURA, on Tuesday, April 18. He gave them a brief overview of the history, science and geometry behind the eclipse. The APSURA learned about what to expect in the moments leading up to totality and how long the eclipse would last.

“Many people are going to be trying to capture it on camera. Don’t worry too much about your camera or you might miss it,” Buckner said.

The presentation also included safety precautions surrounding the eclipse. Buckner told the APSURA to try not be on the road at that time since confusion may cause traffic issues. Eye safety is another precaution views should be cognizant of, according to Buckner. The APSU physics and astronomy club, Delta Square Psi, is selling certified glasses to protect viewer’s eyes from the sun exposure. Other vendors will be around Clarksville selling glasses as well. Bucker taught the APSURA how to tell the difference between real protected eyewear and knockoffs.

According to Buckner, since the next eclipse like the one in August is due again around 2070, this is a big opportunity for both Clarksville and APSU. The physics and astronomy departments have nicknamed it the “Peayclipse.” The physics and astronomy department is launching high altitude balloons to conduct research while NASA is livestreaming their launch. The days leading up to the event are packed full of activities as well. APSU professors are giving a lecture series and providing activities for families. The night before the eclipse, a guest astronaut and author is delivering a talk followed by a live laser and music show at the Dunn. The department is selling family packages that include admission to activities and exclusive viewing locations on campus. Local hotels are already booked for the weekend. The parks in the area are anticipating many family gatherings and are currently negotiating with food and beverage vendors.

The physics and astronomy department is working to educate the community about the eclipse. Since it is a historical event, the department wants to help others understand it because they do not have to be a science major to enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity.

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