Eclipse fever merges with first day of classes

Science and humanities majors alike will have the opportunity to learn from Monday’s solar eclipse, the first visible in North America for 38 years.

Sarah Treschl, senior instructor, English Department, will use the eclipse to help students in her fiction and English composition classes understand metaphor. Ramon Tirado, senior instructor, Physics and Energy Science Department, will use a 10-inch diameter telescope to provide a close-up view of the phenomena where the moon completely covers the sun.

“Complete darkness has to be a metaphor for more than just failed love,” Treschl said. “I’d love for my students to view the event as well as craft some writing. I’m definitely planning to get my students excited and involved.”

Tirado will have a telescope in front of the Engineering Building and plans to allow groups of students, faculty and staff to see the eclipse. He will project an image onto a screen so no one is required to look directly into the sun and risk eye damage.

All of North America will see an eclipse. But those within the path of totality – Oregon to South Carolina – will see a total solar eclipse where the moon will completely cover the sun and the corona can be seen. Those traveling to locations in the path of totality are expected to jam highways, including I-25 en route to Wyoming, over the weekend.

For those who must stay in Colorado Springs – Aug. 21 is also the first official day of classes — eclipse viewers can expect to see stages of the eclipse from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with the peak occurring at approximately 11:35 a.m. Colorado Springs is expected to have an 89 percent obscuring.

NASA and other experts recommend extreme caution when viewing the eclipse, advising use of special-purpose solar filters such as eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses are not recommended.

UCCS will not provide solar filters, glasses or other approved viewers.

For those without glasses, NASA suggests:

An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection. For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse. Or, look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the partial eclipse; you’ll see the ground dappled with crescent Suns projected by the tiny spaces between the leaves.

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