Monday, Aug 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse: RI Viewing Activities

WARNING: Looking directly at the sun can PERMANENTLY DAMAGE your eyes up to and including total blindness, so special protection is needed. Ordinary sunglasses are not sufficient. Even severe eye damage may not be noticeable until a day or two later, like sunburn to the retina.

The solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017, visible 1:30 – 4pm in Rhode Island where about 70% of the sun will be covered by the moon at the 2:30pm peak, could be the most exciting and well publicized since “eclipse fever” gripped the nation in March 1970. Rhode Island is not along the path of totality, which is a narrow strip only 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina, but there are excellent local observing opportunities.

Solar eclipse animation, Aug 21, 2017 (credit: A.T. Sinclair, NASA)

Solar eclipse animation, Aug 21, 2017
(credit: A.T. Sinclair, NASA)

It’s too early at press time to predict the weather, but Skyscrapers at Seagrave Memorial Observatory, 47 Peep Toad Road, Scituate – theskyscrapers.org/great-american-eclipse – and Frosty Drew Observatory, 61-62 Park Lane, Ninigret Park, Charlestown – frostydrew.org/events.dc/show/event-618 – plan extensive observing activities with telescopes for ordinary white light and for hydrogen alpha (deep red) filtered light.

Steve Siok, president of Skyscrapers, said the public will be welcome from 1 – 4pm. Seagrave has limited parking for only about 40 cars and the town does not allow parking on the road, so carpooling is encouraged and arriving visitors may have to wait for another visitor to leave before entering. Scott MacNeill, observatory director at Frosty Drew, said that the public will be welcome from 10am – 4pm; a $1 donation is requested.

Solar eclipse path, Aug 21, 2017 (credit: Fred Espenak, NASA)

Solar eclipse path, Aug 21, 2017
(credit: Fred Espenak, NASA)

Somewhat less oriented to direct observation, the Museum of Natural History at Roger Williams Park in PVD plans a full day of activities, many for children, including special shows at their Cormack Planetarium – facebook.com/events/231800220675641 – 10am – 4pm; regular admission fees will apply.

The East Providence Public Library, 41 Grove Street, plans a family-oriented eclipse party with music, food trucks and activities for children – facebook.com/events/564917367011849 – 1:30 – 4pm; free admission.

Eye protection safe for viewing the partial eclipse is expected to be available at all of the above events.

The eclipse live stream from NASA – eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-live-stream – is expected to be viewable at all of the above events, useful especially in case of heavy cloud cover.

The next total solar eclipse visible from the continental US will be in April 2024.

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