MTSU Friday Star Party Will Gaze at April 8 Total Solar Eclipse

The total solar eclipse in August 2017 brought thousands of visitors to the Middle Tennessee State University campus. People will have to travel out of state to see the April 8 total solar eclipse. Department of Physics and Astronomy professor Chuck Higgins will provide details about the upcoming eclipse during his Friday, March 1, Star Party presentation in Wiser-Patten Science Hall Room 102 followed by a telescope viewing, weather permitting. (MTSU file photo by Eric Sutton)

Get ready for the next total solar eclipse taking place Monday, April 8!

Unlike August 2017, when the Middle Tennessee State University campus celebrated the last solar eclipse with a major campus event attracting thousands of visitors, this time the path of totality does not fall across Murfreesboro, but the solar eclipse glasses many used back then to view the phenomenon will still come in handy.

Department of Physics and Astronomy professor Chuck Higgins will bring details for the eclipse starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, during the Star Party — the second of four scheduled this spring — in Wiser-Patten Science Hall Room 102. Free parking can be found behind Wiser-Patten and other nearby lots.

“You will have to travel to a nearby state like Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana or Ohio to see a total eclipse,” Higgins said. “If you plan to stay here, you will experience a 93% partial eclipse and see a dimmed sky — a bit like twilight — in the middle of the day.”

Higgins said people viewing the eclipse in Murfreesboro or the Midstate need to be careful.

“Because the sun is not completely covered, you will need to use solar eclipse glasses to view the sun,” he said. “If you don’t have solar eclipse glasses, you can see beautiful crescent-shaped suns on the ground beneath the trees. You will also notice shadows from all objects are particularly sharp.”

After April 8, the next total solar eclipse that can be seen from the contiguous U.S. will be April 23, 2044.

All Star parties are free and open to the public. The format is a 30- to 45-minute lecture followed by a telescope viewing at the nearby MTSU Observatory, weather permitting.

Typically held on the first Friday of the month during the semester, the Physics and Astronomy Friday Star Parties feature an assortment of interesting astronomy and physics topics from veteran faculty members.

The remaining Friday Star Party schedule:

• April 5 — Shoot the Moon (with a laser), presented by lecturer Greggory McPherson.

• May 3 — Topic to be announced, presented by instructor Irina Perevalova.

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