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Public Museum gearing up for once in a lifetime eclipse

Posted at 4:27 PM, Mar 24, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The Grand Rapids Public Museum is getting a head start on this summer's total eclipse that will sweep across the United States.

They're showing a presentation called, "Eclipses and Phases of the Moon" daily at the museum's Chaffee Planetarium to get the public ready for the August 21st event. "This show is really gearing people up to understand more about eclipses and the different natural effects that happen in our skies," says Christie Bender, Director of Marketing at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. "This is a great learning tool as well as an excitement builder for the total eclipse that we're going to be seeing in the continental U.S. this year."

Although the eclipse will only be at about 80 to 85 percent here in West Michigan, it will be at 100 percent just 500 miles to our south. "We can expect the shadows to sharpen somewhat," says David DeBruyn, an Astronomy Specialist. "And for there to be a sort of eeriness to the landscape around us once the eclipse becomes 85 percent, or maximum eclipse here at about 2:20 in the afternoon on August 21st."

Safe viewing in West Michigan will require the use of specially designed dark glasses. You can also make a viewing tool out of a cardboard box, with an aluminum pinhole on one end and a piece of paper on the other to act as a projection screen for the sun's image.

Totality of this upcoming solar eclipse will be visible in a narrow zone stretching from Oregon through Nebraska and Missouri, then down into South Carolina. "Now if you're in the totality zone, it will dark enough for some of the brighter stars and planets to occur in the sky," says DeBruyn. "And then this amazing, pearly halo of light will surround the darkened sun. And that's called the solar corona."

If you can't travel to see the total solar eclipse, the Grand Rapids Public Museum is making plans to help you see the partial eclipse here. "We're working on details, but planning on having activities inside and outside," says Bender. "Different solar viewing glasses for people to take home. It will be a full day of activities here at the museum."