Northeast Kansas towns begin planning events in preparation for Aug. 21 solar eclipse

Excitement is building as the “Great American Solar Eclipse” nears, an event that completely block the sun from view in 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina on Aug. 21.

 

Where totality lasts the longest, the sun will be obscured for about two minutes and 36 seconds.

In Kansas, the path of totality will cross Hiawatha, Atchison, Leavenworth and on the very edge, Kansas City.

According to physics professor Chris Sorenson of Kansas State University, the closest Kansas has come to an eclipse was an annular eclipse about 20 years ago. The difference being that during an annular, the moon is farther away from the Earth. This makes the moon look smaller in the sky, and it doesn’t completely cover the sun.

Sorensen has never seen a total eclipse, and he has been preparing for the event for more than a year. In December, he realized the eclipse coincides with the first day of college for many Kansas students, and discussed cancelling classes that day so students could attend this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The administration decided to not cancel classes, but students will not be penalized in any way for missing that first day to view the eclipse.

Sorensen highly recommends traveling north into the path of totality for this event.

“Topeka is not specifically in the path. It will be really cool, the sun will look like a very thin crescent moon is there as the moon almost completely covers the sun, but you’ll still have to use eye shades,” he said. “The proper shade for your vision, and it won’t get total and it won’t be the same.”

Traffic is expected to be heavy Aug. 21, with anywhere from 6,200 to 25,000 people travelling to northeast Kansas to view the eclipse, according to Great American Eclipse, a website dedicated to the event. Sorensen advises leaving early, having a full tank of gas, and packing water, snacks and protection from the sun for the midday event in August.

To see totality at all, you must be within the 70-mile wide path of totality, and the duration greatly increases from the southern or northern limit, where totality will be visible for split-second, to a couple of minutes or more as you get to the center of there path.

Here are area events planned so far, with more being added every week.

Topeka

--Washburn University is planning a viewing event, being outermost edge of the path of totality, on Aug. 21 at 11:30 a.m. Yager Stadium will be opened to the public to view the the eclipse. The university has ordered 6,000 glasses that will be distributed the day of the event, and astronomers from the university will present about the celestial event.

A campus food vendor will offer opportunities for lunch, and the point of totality in Topeka is 1:06 p.m. The schedule is still being finalized.

--People can pick up free eclipse safe viewing glasses necessary to view the solar eclipse at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library starting at 9 a.m. on Aug. 21. Two glasses per family will be distributed while supplies last at the library’s customer service desk.

Glasses will also be available on bookmobiles for mini watch parties across the city, at local community centers, the Rescue Mission and the Topeka Metro Quincy St. station.

--On Monday, Aug. 21, the library watch party will be held outside the library beginning at 11:30 a.m. and in the library’s Marvin Auditorium from noon to 2 p.m.; people can watch NASA’s live streaming.

--Eclipse Topeka STEM will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 2 at Marvin Auditorium at the TSCPL. Kids in grades 3-5 will participate in hands-on activities led by college students from the Washburn University Education Department as part of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative. Registration is required.

--Eclipse Prep, 7 p.m. Aug. 9 in the Marvin Auditorium of the TSCPL, attendees will learn about safe viewing methods and eclipse science from Janelle Burgardt, an amateur astronomer and the education coordinator with the Northeastern Kansas Amateur Astronomers League at Far Point Observatory.

--Amazing Animals, 4:30 p.m. Aug. 14 in the Lingo Story Room of the TSCPL. Kids 5 to 12 years old will discover what animals do when the moon blocks the sun, get up close and personal with featured creature guests and then make a memento of their encounter to take home.

--Factual Fun Eclipse, 4:30 p.m., Aug. 16 in the dinosaur zone at the TSCPL, kids 5 to 8 years old will have fun with activities about eclipses.

--Eclipse Fact, Fiction Folklore and Fun at 3 p.m. Aug. 20 in Marvin Auditorium at the TSCPL. Attendees will examine the truths and lies surrounding eclipses and the impacts eclipses have caused on society. This romp through history and science with retired physics and astronomy professor Daryl Taylor and director of the Banner Creek Observatory Mike Ford will uncover the simple truth and beauty of these astronomical events. At this all-ages event, adult attendees may pick up safe viewing glasses.

Lawrence

--On Aug. 21, Lawrence, Kansas, is estimated to be be within 99.3 percent of the sun being blocked. Join the University of Kansas Department of Physics and Astronomy and the KU Natural History Museum at the Shenk Sports Complex to view the eclipse and learn more about this solar phenomenon when it peaks at about 1:10 p.m. Free eclipse glasses provided. The family-friendly, drop-in event includes science and art activities, telescope viewing with astronomers, and food trucks that will offer lunch. Visit the KU Department of Physics and Astronomy for information at physics.ku.edu/theeclipseatku.

--Sunday, Aug. 20, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., visit the Lawrence Public Library auditorium to join KU Physics and Astronomy professors and the library for a timely discussion about the science and significance of this year’s solar eclipse. Free eclipse glasses will also be available.

Manhattan

--Join the K-State Alumni Association at an eclipse watch party at East Hills Mall in St. Joseph, Mo. The eclipse will begin at approximately 11:40 a.m. and end at 1:08 p.m. at this location.

A free indoor planetarium, as well as special customer discounts with your K-State exclusive solar eclipse glasses will be offered all weekend. Restaurants, food trucks, family restrooms, children’s play areas and more are available.

K-State solar eclipse glasses will be available at the K-State Alumni location while supplies last. More details about the exact location for this event will be released soon.

Parking will be on a first-come, first-served basis, or there will be reserved parking available for purchase. Information on parking is available on the East Hills Mall website. For more information, contact Jessica Elmore at jelmore@k-state.com or (800)600-2586.

--On Monday, Aug. 21, Kansas State University and the Flint Hills Discovery Center will join with Highland Community College in Highland, Kan., to provide a day of education and a once-in-a-lifetime view of the eclipse. Approximately five buses will depart from the the discovery center at 8 a.m. and travel to Highland to view the eclipse. The bus will return at approximately 4 p.m. Professor Chris Sorenson from K-State will give a presentation before the eclipse, and there will also be food vendors, a beer garden, live music and walking tours.

The registration fee for this event is $35 for the general public and $25 for K-State students. Meals are not included. Kindergarten through 12th grade students may attend with a registered adult participant. Cost is $25 per student and preregistration is required.

As of Friday, about 30 tickets remained for the trip.

For further information or questions about accommodations due to disability, contact Tony Ballard at tballard@ksu.edu. Notification by Aug. 1 is requested to ensure appropriate accommodations can be provided.

--On Thursday, Aug. 17, the Flint Hills Discovery Center is offering free lectures for the public to prepare for the eclipse, with professor Chris Sorenson from K-State speaking from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

Elsewhere

--The Doniphan County seat of Troy kicks off its “Eclipse in the Heartland” party on Sunday, Aug. 20, with music, street vendors and a beer garden on the courthouse square and an evening 5K Eclipse Run. On Monday, eclipse day, Troy offers four designated viewing sites: the courthouse square, high school football field, city baseball field and the 4-H fairgrounds. Shuttles run from parking areas to the sites.

--Atchison celebrates the epic event with the Eclipse Aire Fest at Amelia Earhart Airport. Earhart’s hometown plans bi-plane rides, live music, food vendors and the display of “Muriel,” a historic 1935 Lockheed Electra L-10E airplane identical to the model flown by Earhart during her attempted world flight.

Atchison’s 2 minutes, 19 seconds of totality begin at 1:06 p.m. Witness the spectacle at two designated areas: Amelia Earhart Airport and Benedictine College’s Wilcox Stadium. Benedictine College also hosts talks by astronomers from the Vatican and a concert by the college’s music department.

--The town of Hiawatha in Brown County observes its impressive 2 minutes, 34 seconds of darkness with Brown County Blackout festivities, including live music, a beer garden, food vendors and children’s activities at the Fisher Community Center viewing site.

--Marysville gets its party started Sunday with the Squirrel Jam music festival, a free movie, ice cream social, glow run and glow yoga. On Monday, crowds gather at the official viewing site, the Lakeview Sports Complex, for the sunless 1 minute, 11 seconds.

--In Sabetha, watchers can view the eclipse from the bleachers and wide-open spaces of the 6th Street Ballpark. Near Kansas City, join the Total Eclipse in the Parks gatherings at Antioch Park in Merriam, Heritage Park in Olathe and Theatre in the Park in Shawnee.

Note: If you would like your event added to this ongoing list of events for the 2017 Solar Eclipse, email Savanna Maue at CJfoodfun@cjonline.com.

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