This might be the rare weekend where people are actually looking forward to Monday.
At about 1:15 p.m. on Monday, central Pennsylvania will be able to glimpse the beginnings of a partial solar eclipse.
Christopher Palma, associate head for undergraduate programs at the Penn State Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, said those with an eye toward the sky should expect to see the sun just under 80 percent eclipsed, with the peak occurring around 2:35 p.m. that afternoon.
“It’s an opportunity you’re probably only going to get a few times in your lifetime,” Palma said.
Carol Tancibok, president of the Central Pennsylvania Observers, said the club has received numerous inquiries over the past few months from people who are looking to make the most of the view from Centre County.
It’s an opportunity you’re probably only going to get a few times in your lifetime.
Tancibok has never seen an eclipse, but it’s an item that she and her husband intend to check of their respective bucket lists.
A Fullington Trailways bus tour will transport them to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Kentucky, closer to the path of the eclipse.
“They say it’s nothing like you’ve ever experienced. Animal behavior changes, the temperature drops,” Tancibok said.
The Fullington tour spares her the arduous task of finding a hotel room, which are almost impossible to get at this point.
Wayne Osgood, another CPO member, spent the better part of last week en route to his father-in-law’s house in Lincoln, Neb. From there, he’ll drive to Fairmont and connect with an astronomy club from Grand Rapids, Mich., that will keep him company during the eclipse.
Osgood took to astronomy late in life, after an evening spent gazing up at the clear skies above the Chesapeake Bay. He thinks that rare astrological events like the eclipse can help roll out the welcome mat for other would-be stargazers in the field.
“There’s always been lots of amateur involvement,” Osgood said.
It’s a habit that Palma is hoping to encourage right here in Centre County.
They say it’s nothing like you’ve ever experienced. Animal behavior changes, the temperature drops.
The department of astronomy and astrophysics will sponsor three different opportunities for viewing Monday’s eclipse at Mount Nittany Middle School, The Arboretum at Penn State and Davey Laboratory.
Student and faculty volunteers will staff each location, taking questions and providing deeper insight into what’s happening in the sky. Looking at an eclipse through a naked eye is a bad idea, so “eclipse glasses” will also be made available for safety.
“I’m really excited with how much of a response there’s been,” Palma said.
Crystal Judy will be escorting members of her local Girl Scout troop to Mount Nittany Middle School, where they’ll do all of the legwork required to earn a Great American Solar Eclipse badge.
Even in the doldrums of summer, Judy is glad that there are still windows for children to learn something new.
“It’s really important for kids to explore the science around you and how things work,” Judy said.
If you can’t make it to any of Monday’s events but are still interested in viewing the eclipse from at home or work, Palma suggests visiting NASA’s website at eclipse2017.nasa.gov for tips on how to safely observe the phenomenon using an easy-to-make pinhole projector.
Centre County solar eclipse viewing events
What: Penn State’s Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics’ solar eclipse viewing
When: 1:15-4 p.m. Monday
Where: Rooftop observatory at Davey Laboratory, University Park; Mount Nittany Middle School, 656 Brandywine Drive, State College; The Arboretum at Penn State, University Park
What: Solar eclipse viewing
When: 1-4 p.m. Monday
Where: Black Moshannon State Park, 4216 Beaver Road, Philipsburg. Meet at boat launch No. 2.