VERMILLION, S.D. | The University of South Dakota Department of Physics will host a solar eclipse viewing party from 12:40 to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21.
The free and open-to-the-public event will include telescope viewing and interaction with physics faculty and graduate students on the east lawn of the Akeley-Lawrence Science Center, 414 E. Clark St.
"Good things are best shared with other people," said assistant physics professor Joel Sander.
Since the first total solar eclipse to pass through any of the lower 48 states in the past 38 years will occur during Sander's first day of his fall semester astronomy class, he decided to delay reviewing the syllabus and host an eclipse viewing event for his students and the community instead.
"(Faculty and graduate students) will be there to answer questions and talk about the eclipse," Sander said. Two telescopes with solar filters will track the sun as it progresses through the sky and as many as 160 pairs of eclipse-viewing glasses will be available.
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Glasses are also available at local retailers and through online merchants.
Sky-watchers in Vermillion will see approximately 95 percent of the sun blocked at the eclipse's peak, Sander said. He cautioned against looking directly at the sun during this phase as well as before and after the peak coverage.
"The only safe time to look at a solar eclipse is when the sun is 100 percent covered by the moon's shadow," he said.
Sander emphasized that witnessing a solar eclipse is an intense experience that has deep connections to history, art and culture.
"This total solar eclipse may be the most dramatic event in the sky to see in your lifetime and it connects you to past history," he said.