Professor gives presentation on upcoming solar eclipse

Seminar: During his lecture, Mark Smith explains the difference between solar and lunar eclipses. He advised attendees viewing from Topeka to make sure they wear mylar film glasses to prevent ultraviolet radiation from damaging their eyes.

Natalie Croze

It was standing room only Aug. 7 in Henderson 100, as nearly 250 people attended a presentation on the upcoming solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

Mark Smith, astronomy outreach coordinator and lecturer at Washburn University, hosted the event.

“I have not had this many people excited about astronomy since the last time I announced that there was no final in my astronomy class,” Smith said.

This lecture was free and open to the public so that as many people that wanted to could gain a greater understanding of the solar eclipse.

“The actual peak of [the solar eclipse] is somewhere between 1:06 or 1:07 p.m., but it starts a couple hours before that,” Smith said.

Even though the moon goes through all its phases in about 29 days, the reason a solar eclipse is such a rare event is because the moon is not in perfect orbit with the Earth, according to Smith.

If you are planning on seeing the solar eclipse, Smith recommends that you be somewhere in the northern Holton area, citing Hiawatha as being optimal locations for viewing.

Something to keep in mind for viewing the eclipse are the necessary safety precautions, as the sun will be dangerous to look directly at until it is in totality without protection. For this, Smith recommended wearing specially made glasses that you can find at stores like your local Wal-Mart or Dillons. 

Smith also said that capturing the solar eclipse will be very difficult for people who are not experienced. However, if you do desire a photo of the event, Smith recommends you go online and find photos and time lapse videos captured by professionals. NASA will be live streaming on their website all day leading up to the event.

“The classic joke is that people go to concerts and they stand there watching the video that they’re recording instead of the event,” Smith said. “Put that down and watch the event.”

Washburn will be hosting a viewing party at Yager Stadium open to the community. The solar eclipse is on Aug. 21 at 1:05 p.m. Remember to bring proper eye protection if you are planning to view this historic event.