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Oakley Observatory to Provide Close-Up View of Rare Solar Eclipse

Wednesday, August 09, 2017
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Oakley Observatory Director Rick Ditteon is hoping for clear skies on August 21, allowing people to view a rare total solar eclipse through telescopes on campus.

The pop-up toaster was a brand new invention the last time the United States saw a total solar eclipse. Now, for the first time in nearly 100 years, portions of the country will go dark during the daylight hours as the sun disappears behind the moon—and Rose-Hulman’s Oakley Observatory will be hosting a viewing party for the public to take in the spectacle.

The August 21 event will have several telescopes with special solar filters to allow visitors to safely view the eclipse from 12:55 p.m. until 3:47 p.m., weather permitting. If viewable, the moon’s disk will cover 95 percent of the sun at 2:23 p.m., according to Oakley Observatory Director Rick Ditteon.

“This is a celestial event that’s being referred to as the ‘Great American Eclipse’ because it is the first time since 1918 that a total solar eclipse has gone across America,” says Ditteon. He notes that the next total solar eclipse observable from North America won’t happen until 2024.

Access to the Oakley Observatory will be limited to 47 people at a time. Each person will be given a ticket that will allow viewing through one of the telescopes for several minutes. Visitors who wish to use another telescope will need to obtain an additional ticket. All tickets are free of charge.

“We want as many people as possible to view this eclipse. We’re fortunate to have a long viewing window and enough available telescopes to give people multiple viewing opportunities,” says Ditteon, Rose-Hulman’s Herman A.Moench Distinguished Professor. The observatory will also livestream the eclipse online.

Additionally, the Astronomy Club is making a limited supply of polarized eclipse glasses available for purchase at $2 each.

The Oakley Observatory, founded in 2000 through a grant from Terre Haute’s Oakley Foundation, is located on top of a hill on the east side of the Rose-Hulman campus. Visitors can use the facility's Hunt Road entrance just north of U.S. 40. Public safety personnel will instruct people where to park.