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NASA, Lowell Observatory, OMSI in Madras and Warm Springs for student and general public events

If you haven't yet heard, there will be a total solar eclipse this summer, the morning of Monday, Aug. 21. The Madras area is expected to have a few visitors for it — anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 people in the central county area. By now, most locals have gotten word.

Next week, the eclipse is going to become a bit more tangible, in a sense. The 509-J School District is hosting Eclipse Week. Scientists from NASA's Goddard Flight Center, the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, and Oregon's own OMSI will be in town. Their presence provides a great opportunity for local students to get up close and personal with the science of the cosmos.

But on the evenings of Tuesday, May 16 in Warm Springs and Thursday, May 18 in Madras, the scientists will be giving evening presentations to the general public.

It's a great opportunity to get psyched up for the eclipse, or at least see what the fuss is all about.

The Madras event is at the Performing Arts Center, starting at 6 p.m. next Thursday. It will feature an address by W. Dean Pesnell of the NASA Goodard Space Flight Center. He's titled his presentation: "What is a Total Solar Eclipse and Why Should Madras Care?" As the title suggests, he'll give details on what happens during an eclipse, and insights as to why people chase them all over the globe.

The scientists on hand will also hold smaller-group programs at the PAC for more targeted discussion. Plus, the OMSI Planetarium will be on site for tours.

Then, at 8 p.m. when the skies darken, the action will move to the MHS stadium, where Todd Gonzales, of the Lowell Observatory, will host a presentation titled "Star Stories." There will be hot chocolate, cookies and telescopes set up at the stadium.

Two days earlier, on the 16th, the NASA-OMSI-Observatory roadshow will also be in Warm Springs, at the Warm Springs Academy, starting with a dinner at 5:30.

Sounds like a great way to learn what all the fuss of two minutes of daytime darkness is all about. Everything we want to know about the eclipse — except maybe on how to rent out our back yards to desperate dry campers for a few thousand per night — will likely be presented.

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