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Studying the stars

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Library will host astronomy event in preparation for this summer's eclipse

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Bob Yoesle will lead a presentation at the Estacada Public Library titled What to Expect: The Solar Eclipse of August 21st 2017. Yoesle is a member of the Rose City Astronomers and a volunteer at the Goldendale Observatory

The Estacada Public Library will soon have the opportunity to get to know the stars.

From 4-6 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at the library, Bob Yoesle will lead a presentation called "What to Expect: The Solar Eclipse of August 21st 2017."

A member of the Rose City Astronomers and a volunteer at the Goldendale Observatory, Yoesle is a lifelong amateur astronomer and solar enthusiast. During the Estacada presentation, he will first guide participants in solar viewing using two high power, filtered telescopes in the courtyard outside of the library's Flora Room.

He will then discuss the upcoming eclipse, during which the sun will be completely blocked by the moon for two minutes.

"A total eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event, if you're lucky," Yoesle said, describing it as a beautiful and rare event. "I'm not trying to put down a partial eclipse, but it's nothing compared to a total eclipse."

During a total eclipse, "daytime is turned into late twilight."

"The temperature drops, and things get still and quiet," Yoesle said.

Yoesle thinks it's important for people to know what separates a total eclipse from a partial eclipse.

"At 99 percent totality, even that small sliver is so bright," he said.

This August, the eclipse's path of totality will include Albany, Corvallis, Salem and Madras. Estacada is not included in this path, and to experience the full eclipse, Yoesle encouraged those interested make plans to travel to a city in the eclipse's path of totality.

"I fear that a lot of people will think, 'I'm pretty close (to the path of totality). And then they'll see pictures the next day, and think 'Oh darn, I missed it," he said. "You can watch it on TV or the internet, but that still doesn't capture the full experience."

He noted that those interested in traveling to see the eclipse should make plans to do so sooner rather than later.

"People will be out en masse," he warned.

Yoesle described the presentation in Estacada as "a public education event," in which he hopes to encourage participants to learn more about astronomy. After the solar viewing part of the event is complete, he'll discuss the dynamics of eclipses, how they occur and where to best view them.

He added that studying astronomy can expand one's perspective.

"It's humbling to contemplate how huge the universe is," he said. "Experiencing nature takes us out of ourselves and puts us into a much bigger universe."