CSU, Chico to Host Physics Experts for Solar Eclipse Viewing Party

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: 08-17-2017

CONTACT: Sean Murphy
TEL: 530-898-6492
Debra Barger, Regional & Continuing Education
TEL: 530-898-6105

As the fall semester launches into full swing at California State University, Chico on Monday, a special solar eclipse viewing party is expected to attract hundreds of students to share in the astronomical phenomenon and hear from University experts on the rarity of this celestial event. 

Co-hosted by the Provost Office and Regional & Continuing Education, the eclipse viewing party will take place on the Glenn Lawn area on Monday, Aug. 21, from 9 to 11:30 a.m. The campus and Chico communities are invited to this opportunity to safely view and learn more about the solar eclipse, which is expected to take place over 2 ½ hours.

A solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and Earth line up, and the moon obstructs sunlight reaching Earth. On Monday, after the moon begins its coverage of the sun at around 9 a.m., Chico will eventually experience 85 percent of coverage at approximately 10:17 a.m. By around 11:30 a.m., the moon will exit the sun’s path.

The eclipse viewing party will loan out a limited number of viewing glasses for free, as well as provide viewing cards and pinhole cameras to safely view this historic event.

Additionally, the Department of Physics will have a few solar telescopes on the Glenn Lawn to track the moon’s path in front of the sun. CSU, Chico assistant professor of physics Nick Nelson and the Student Physics Society also will be available to answer questions.

Nelson said that the near-total coverage in Chico will look much like sunset, and that viewers can expect Mother Nature to react, as shadows will lengthen and birds and other wildlife will act as though the sun is going down.

Debra Barger, dean of Regional & Continuing Education, said an almost-total solar eclipse occurring on the first day of classes inspired Academic Affairs and Student Affairs to collaborate on welcoming the community to share in this amazing natural phenomenon.

“In addition to an opportunity to learn more about the science surrounding a solar eclipse across America, our beautiful campus provides a magnificent setting for participants to observe and even sketch the unique light patterns formed by the eclipse, all while accompanied by music emanating from Trinity Tower, as curated by the College of Humanities and Fine Arts,” Barger said.

Additionally, a NASA livestream of the eclipse will be shown at multiple locations around campus, including the entrance to the Physical Science Building, Meriam Library, the Bell Memorial Union, and the Wildcat Recreation Center.

To view the eclipse safely, Barger reminds people to avoid staring directly into the sun—even during the eclipse—and to use glasses specifically designed to protect eyes from the sun’s damaging rays.

According to Nelson, the last time Chico experienced this much coverage was during the full solar eclipse on Jan. 1, 1889. The next time this area will experience similar coverage is 2024, but total coverage will be viewable in the region during the solar eclipse of Aug. 12, 2045.

###

About California State University, Chico

California State University, Chico is the second-oldest campus in the 23-member CSU system, the nation’s largest public university system. Founded in 1887, Chico State enrolls approximately 17,500 students and offers more than 230 graduate and undergraduate programs through its seven colleges and five schools. The campus is consistently ranked as one of the best regional public universities in the Western United States and is the only CSU campus to have earned a favorable rating in all five categories of the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, which rates universities on affordability and value. Its mission includes a broad commitment to environmental sustainability, public service and community engagement throughout the 12-county North State region, where the campus is located. The University became a federal Hispanic-Serving Institution in 2015.