With Saturday’s annular eclipse approaching, Alabamians have the opportunity to view the event at either the University of North Alabama in Florence or the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.
UNA officials said it will begin its events for the day at 10:30 a.m. and will go until 2 p.m. The school will also have solar projectors, telescopes, and eclipse glasses for participants.
“An annular eclipse takes place when the moon is a little further away from the Earth than average so that it is smaller in the sky and does not completely cover the sun,” said Dr. Mel Blake, the associate professor of physics and astronomy and director of the UNA Planetarium. “The result is that there remains a ring of the sun not covered by the moon. This is why the annular eclipses are sometimes called a ‘ring of fire.’ The southwestern United States is favored for this eclipse and will see the ring of fire.”
The Space & Rocket Center will offer hands on activities, presentations, and solar telescopes to view the eclipse safely. The Von Braun Astronomical Society, NASA, and students from the University of Alabama in Huntsville will be on hand to take part in the events which will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A Teen Maker Hour is available for both museum guests and the general public. This solar-themed activity takes place at 10:30 a.m. and is designed for ages 12 and up. Participants will learn about solar eclipse science and solar power production and create their own solar-powered critter.
UNA and the Space & Rocket Center are the only large-scale viewing events taking place throughout the state. Some venues are closed for renovation, such as the Jacksonville State University planetarium, and others have suspended operations, such as the Christenberry Planetarium.
The partial eclipse is set to start around 10:35 a.m. around the state, with maximum coverage of around 50% taking place about 12:05 p.m.
Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.