ROCKINGHAM — On Monday, August 21 the United States will be treated to a total eclipse of the sun, and the Leath Library in Rockingham will be hosting an event for the community to be able to safely watch the historic event.
The “Total Eclipse” event will begin at 10:00am and will feature a Star Wars movie along with food and ice cream, activities for the kids, and community awareness activities. A food vendor will be on site to provide the food and ice cream. An educational and safety presentation will take place at 12:30pm in preparation for the eclipse viewing, and the culmination of the event will be the viewing of the total eclipse soon thereafter.
The event may be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for most event attendees. The last total eclipse in the United States occurred on February 26, 1979. The last total eclipse that crossed the entire continent occurred on June 8, 1918. The August 21 total eclipse will again cross the entire continent.
A grant awarded to the Leath Library made it possible for the library to purchase 1,000 solar glasses for the community to have a safe way to view the eclipse that day. Deborah Knight, Outreach Coordinator, said the “solar glasses will be distributed for viewing at no-charge to the public.”
The Richmond Observer, along with Farm Bureau Insurance, Discovery Kids, Partnership for Children, Richmond County Hospice Inc, Cheerwine, and the Rockingham Police and Fire Department are sponsoring the Leath Library eclipse event.
“There will be no better place for Richmond County citizens to view the eclipse than at the Leath Library event in Rockingham,” said Lance Jenkins, co-founder of The Richmond Observer and agency manager at Farm Bureau Insurance. “Deborah Knight and the staff at Leath Library have gone above and beyond to ensure the Leath Library puts on an exciting event to celebrate this historic moment.”
Physicist and Richmond County native Charlie Melvin will make a guest appearance at the event to address the eclipse in a special presentation to attendees. Melvin is a 2011 graduate of Richmond Senior High School and a 2015 graduate of North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
The eclipse will be visible, weather permitting, across all of North America. The entire continent will experience a partial eclipse lasting two to three hours. Anyone within a 70-milewide path that stretches through 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a total eclipse. During those brief moments — when the moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face for about two minutes — day will turn into night, making visible the otherwise hidden solar corona, the sun’s outer atmosphere. Bright stars and planets will become visible as well. Birds will fly to their nighttime roosts. Nocturnal insects such as cicadas and crickets will buzz and chirp. This is truly one of nature’s most wondrous experiences.
For NASA, the eclipse provides a unique opportunity to study the sun, Earth, moon and their interaction, because of the eclipse’s long path over land coast to coast. Eleven NASA and NOAA satellites, the International Space Station, more than 50 high-altitude balloons, and hundreds of ground-based assets will take advantage of this rare event over 90 minutes, sharing the science and the beauty of a total solar eclipse with all.
The only safe way to look directly at an uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through specialpurpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are NOT safe for looking at the sun. It is safe to look at a total eclipse with your naked eyes, ONLY during the brief period of totality, which will last just a minute or two during the Aug. 21 eclipse. It is NOT safe to look at the sun through the viewfinder of a camera or an unfiltered telescope. You may, however, safely look at the screen of your smart phone or digital camera focused on the eclipse, though you are unlikely to get a good view.
The total solar eclipse is a rare event, at least for this area. Alex Young, solar scientist with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, said, “If you have an opportunity to see this—take it. You will not be disappointed.”
For more information about the Leath Library, visit http://www.richmondnc.com/193/Thomas-H-Leath-Memorial-Library.