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LEARNING TOOL: How local astronomy club is using the eclipse to educate

tulsa astronomy club mounds observatory eclipse space telescope
Posted at 5:58 AM, Apr 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-08 09:34:33-04

TULSA, Okla. — Tens of thousands are expected to flock to southeastern Oklahoma and Arkansas on April 8 to see the moon fully eclipse the sun.

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse happens when the moon gets directly in between the Earth and the sun. Essentially, the moon is casting its shadow on the Earth.

These events can only ever happen during the new moon phase. A lunar cycle takes 29.5 days, but solar eclipses don't always happen during new moons. Usually, the moon's shadow goes just above or just below the earth.

What will Tulsa see?

In Tulsa the eclipse will be at 95%. The eclipse falls on a Monday afternoon and for anyone that can't travel to totality there are watch parties in Tulsa.

The Tulsa Astronomy Club and others is hosting a watch party downtown at Guthrie Green with live music, food, and educational experiences about astronomy.

There's been an astronomical build-up to this eclipse for weeks, but here's why Jonathan Fussell said it's so important.

"It's so significant because we're not gonna see another one for 21 years," he told 2 News. "Eclipses are some of the most amazing celestial sights you may ever see in your entire life, especially if you can get within the path of totality. That is such a special, unique experience they can have, in my opinion."

jonathan fussell tulsa astronomy club eclipse telescope
Jonathan Fussell observes the sun through a solar telescope.

There's more to Guthrie Green's solar spectacle than just vendors and live music. With such an intense spotlight on astronomy right now, Fussell said this is a golden opportunity to educate the public about eclipses and the field of study in general.

"You don't get a lot of public opportunities like this," the amateur astronomer said. "Obviously, astronomy is sort of in everybody's mind. It's very interesting, but rarely do you have an event like this happen where a majority of the country sets aside time to go out and stare at the sky. So yeah, it's a pretty spectacular time and event."

Downtown at Guthrie Green, Fussell told us he'll teach people about why eclipses happen and how they work. He'll also show people how to use a solar telescope, which lets people look closely at the sun in a way that's safe for their eyes.

He hopes this chance will get younger folks into studying the stars.

"I hope this inspires younger generations to get out there and grab a telescope and ask mom and dad if they can go to the planetarium or to the observatory," Fussell said. "Maybe this will spark the interest that leads them down their career in astronomy."

WATCH: Events around Tulsa to watch the eclipse

Tulsa family heading out to catch totality of eclipse

At the watch party, the Tulsa Astronomy Club is handing out smaller plate filters for those who don't have the special eclipse glasses. The watch party runs from 12pm to about 3pm.

The Tulsa Astronomy Club also allows the public to check out its observatory in Mounds, OK, during scheduled viewings. Click here to see the club's website for more information.

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