Solar eclipse viewing at Paul Morgan Observatory on Saturday
UCC is hosting a solar eclipse viewing event on Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Paul Morgan Observatory for the last eclipse visible in Douglas County until Nov. 15, 2077.
The observatory is right on the centerline of the Ring of Fire eclipse path, so from 8:30 to 11 a.m. attendees will have the best view of the solar eclipse from the only observatory in Southern Oregon.
Paul Morgan, astronomy professor at UCC, for whom the observatory is named, will attend as well to answer any attendants’ questions.
“We very seldom have solar eclipses in our own backyard,” Morgan explained in a phone interview. The eclipse in its entirety lasts for about two hours, but the climax lasts a very short time. “We will see the new moon cover most of the sun, about 91%, leaving a ring or an annulus, hence the name Ring of Fire Eclipse, around 9:16 am. We’ll have this ring visible for roughly four minutes and 25 seconds,” Morgan said.
As Morgan explained, a solar eclipse is when the new moon comes around the Earth at just the right angle to cover up the sun from our view. Because the sun is blocked out, unusual phenomena happen for those in the eclipse path, such as strange shadows, nocturnal animals rising for what they think is dusk, and stars appearing to rise during daytime.
Danny Faulkner, who has a doctorate in astronomy, said in his book “The Expanse of Heaven”, “A total solar eclipse is one of those things that must be experienced truly to understand its beauty and wonder. My first eclipse was the one in 1979, and I was completely unprepared for what I saw. I expected my second eclipse, in 2017, to be much the same. It wasn’t. I’ve heard people who have been to many eclipses say that each one is very different, but I didn’t understand. Now I do. It is a gross understatement to say that a total solar eclipse is the most remarkable thing I have ever experienced.”
Approved eclipse glasses are required for anyone viewing the eclipse, whether at home or at the Paul Morgan Observatory. “Make sure that they are certified; look for a label that says ISO 12312-2. That gives you confidence that these have been certified as to be providing good protection for your eyes,” Morgan said.
The observatory will also give the option to view the eclipse on screens; “It’s the only all-digital observatory in the Northwest, meaning that it does not make people climb ladders and look through eye pieces. We have everything run with cameras that run through our telescopes which then connect either to an outdoor projector or to some large screens inside the observatory,” Morgan said.
In addition to hosting the eclipse event on Saturday, the Paul Morgan Observatory is open for other astronomical events. “We typically try at least once a month to have a public night where we provide a sky tour showing various things appropriate for that season, perhaps nebulas, star clusters, or galaxies, and things like that,” Morgan said. The observatory has been open for five years collectively. To find the Paul Morgan Observatory, check the campus map online.
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