Special August MTSU Star Parties, Panel Discussion Planned Ahead of Solar Eclipse


In anticipation of the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, MTSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy is planning two special Friday Star Parties and an on-campus panel discussion with leading U.S. astronomers one day before the natural phenomenon occurs.

The Star Parties will be held starting at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4 and Aug. 11 in McWherter Learning Resources Center Room 221. Because of the heightened interest in the total solar eclipse, both are at a special time and location.

The 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, panel discussion will be held in Science Building Room 1006.

To find the LRC, Science Building and parking, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/parking/documents/parking-map.pdf.

The public is invited to all three events. MTSU Star Parties are a way for the department to bring the campus, Murfreesboro and surrounding communities together, with faculty sharing about planets, the sun and moon and other celestial objects and phenomena.

For more on campus events related to the Great Tennessee Eclipse, visit http://www.mtsu.edu/eclipse/. To learn how to safely view the eclipse from associate professor Chuck Higgins, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEzgZJIr72Y.

Lecturer Irina Perevalova will discuss “History and Science of Solar Eclipses” during her Friday, Aug. 4, Star Party. A Russia native, Perevalova earned her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Alabama. She secured lunar rock samples that were shown at MTSU in 2013.

Professor John Wallin will share “Observing and Photographing the Solar Eclipse” in his Friday, Aug. 11, talk.

“Bring your cameras, tripods and binoculars for a hands-on practice session,” said Wallin, an astrophysicist who studies interacting galaxies and the gravitational force of objects at the edge of our solar system. He also is director in MTSU’s Ph.D. in Computational Science program.

“If you can take a good picture of a full moon, you can take a good picture of the eclipse,” said Wallin, who added he will also discuss what to expect during the total eclipse.

Weather permitting, Star Party attendees will later move to the observatory.

Robert “Bob” Nemiroff, professor of physics at Michigan Technological University, will headline a virtual “all-star” field participating in the panel discussion. He is one of the creators and editors of the Astronomy Picture of the Day website, https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/.

Other expected panelists include Jim Thieman, a retired NASA Goddard Space Flight Center scientist and researcher; and the husband-and-wife tandem of Thomas Beach from the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos and Joyce Guzik, lab fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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