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Learn about the science behind the eclipse

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Dr. Scott Fisher will give a lecture at Crook County High School auditorium on what happens during a solar eclipse

PHOTO COURTESY OF BOWMAN MUSEUM - Dr. Scott FisherWhen museum leaders were considering lecture topics for its May at the Museum series, they knew they wanted to include one on the upcoming solar eclipse.

And once they decided to do it, they decided to turn to a speaker they were familiar with from a prior lecture the prior year. Dr. Scott Fisher had given a very engaging session on astronomy, and Museum Director Gordon Gillespie was eager to bring him back.

"He is a good speaker," he said. "The guy has that kind of energy that you just like to listen. He knows how to talk to an audience to make it creative and interesting."

The eclipse lecture was scheduled for the final slot of the May series, and the museum staff began to advertise the event at its usual venue. But then people began to question whether holding it at the museum would provide people enough seating. With hundreds of thousands expected to come to Central Oregon for the Aug. 21 eclipse, people suggested that the lecture would be far more popular than others.

"We have had this (museum community room) standing-room only," Gillespie said, "so it wouldn't take much more than that to start turning people away."

So museum leaders decided to move the lecture to the Crook County High School auditorium, a first for the lecture series in its more than decade-long history.

The upcoming lecture will focus less on the number of people coming to the community and how it will put a strain on local resources.

"Everybody seems to be aware of the numbers and the worries and the porta-potties and that sort of stuff," Gillespie said. "This is the interesting science behind the eclipse rather than all of the numbers."

Fisher, who works at the Pine Mountain Observatory and is a professor at the University of Oregon, is planning to provide a lecture that will appeal to a wide variety of people.

"This is meant for all ages and all levels of knowledge," he said. "We are going to talk about what eclipses are and how they happen and what's going on up there in the sky … I will show pictures and even a short little video clip of previous eclipses, not to spoil it for folks but to show us what to expect."

In addition, Fisher will cover eclipse viewing safety and discuss what to look for during the event and what to expect. As an added bonus, the museum will be giving away up to 500 free viewing glasses for people who attend the lecture.

Fisher, who loves to teach entry-level astronomy classes, will also take some time to provide an overview of what is going on in the night sky that people see during Central Oregon's summer evenings.

"The two main goals would be to give folks a professional and scientific view of this eclipse and then try to dovetail that into some basic astronomy too," he said.

Most years, Fisher has not given lectures that focus entirely on eclipses, but this year has understandably been different. Recently, he has done it a lot, and he looks forward to more of the same in Prineville as he helps spread information about the eclipse as wide as possible.

"This is a special time," he said.