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Solar Eclipse Viewing at the MC Planetarium Monday (Limited Seating)

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Category: Features

Published: Aug 18 2017 9:18AM

For the first time in 38 years, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the continental United States. The MC community is invited to share in this exciting astronomical event with experts and professors from the College, on Monday, August 21 from 12:30 to 3 p.m. in the planetarium on the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus.

Because the area of the planetarium is not in the path of totality, it will at no point be safe to look at the sun without proper eye protection. If the sky is clear during the event, MC Prof. Carrie Fitzgerald and Planetarium Director Harold Williams will set up several telescopes with solar filters to provide a safe look at the partial eclipse. The College will also be giving away solar glasses to attendees. Seating is limited.

More safety tips from NASA:

A planetarium show explaining how, when, and where eclipses happen will be followed by a live broadcast of the eclipse on the planetarium dome from areas within the path of totality. The event is free and open to the public.

An eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth, and moon line up. During a solar eclipse, the moon is positioned directly between the sun and Earth so that the moon's shadow falls on Earth's surface. The moon's shadow can cover only a small portion of Earth at any given time, so the path of totality is relatively small. The combination of Earth's rotation and the moon orbiting around the Earth causes the moon's shadow to speed across Earth's surface at speeds of about 1700 kilometers per hour. Therefore, totality during an eclipse never lasts for more than a few minutes from any location.

From the Montgomery College planetarium location in Takoma Park, Fitzgerald says, the eclipse will begin at 1:17 p.m. and will be at a maximum by 2:41 p.m., when 81 percent of the sun's disk will be obscured.

The last time a total solar eclipse was visible from the United States was in 1979. After the August eclipse, there won't be another until April of 2024. In South America, there are two upcoming total solar eclipses, July 2019 and in December 2020.

<b>Directions to the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus of Montgomery College</b>

From I-495, the capital beltway, go south on George Avenue (Route 97). Turn left on Sligo Avenue. Continue to Fenton Street; turn right. The parking garage is on the right and the campus is on the left. The campus is easily accessible from the Silver Spring and Takoma Park Metro stations and local Ride-On buses as well. We are at one end of Fenton Street, the southern end, where City Place is at the other end of Fenton Street, the northern end.

If you are coming to the planetarium for a public program, please park in the Montgomery College parking garage on King Street.

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