Special Campus Events Celebrating the Solar Eclipse on August 21st


On Aug. 21, a solar eclipse will occur over the United States. Appalachian State University’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Physics and Astronomy have been working for months to share the experience with the campus and community.

In Boone, a partial eclipse will be seen with the greatest coverage occurring at 96 percent around 2:36 p.m. The day of the eclipse, members of the department of Physics and Astronomy as well as the College will be providing telescopes on Sanford Mall for solar viewing, and faculty and students will be on hand to answer questions. The Department is also partnering with Southwestern Community College to provide a live-stream of the eclipse through totality using our wide-field telescope with a Mylar (white light) filter. A portable planetarium will be set up in Grandfather Mountain Ballroom of the Plemmons Student Union where the live stream will be viewable via big screen. Solar viewing glasses will be available on Sanford Mall the day of the eclipse for safe solar viewing.

Eclipse photo
Eclipse photo

Incoming Freshmen students will also share in this experience following the Black and Gold Convocation Ceremony in the stadium where lunch will be served. Educational videos, found on our website (www.cas.appstate.edu/eclipse) will be shared with all incoming freshmen, they will receive solar viewing glasses and a version of the live stream will be broadcast as well.

This summer, undergraduates Lucas Sanders and Christine Massingale of Southwestern Community College, part of the Smoky Mountain STEM Collaborative (www.stem.appstate.edu/node/136) have been working with Appalachian faculty members David Sitar and Dr. Dan Caton of the physics and astronomy department along with graduate student Jared Day, MS engineering physics, and undergraduate Ellie Prim, physics, secondary education.

Prim received a local N.C. Space Grant to assist Sitar with solar eclipse planning, as well as make astronomical instrumentation upgrades at the Rankin Science GoTo Astronomy Laboratory. In addition, she has been involved with updating the introductory astronomy lab manual by converting it to a digital format and assisting with the design and implementation of new computers for the introductory astronomy lab. Prim was also awarded a SAFE grant from the College of Arts and Sciences to create safety and informational videos regarding the eclipse that were made in partnership with the undergraduates from Southwestern Community College. You can watch the videos on the College of Arts and Sciences website at: www.cas.appstate.edu/eclipse.

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Day also received a N.C. Space Grant Graduate Fellowship to work with Dr. Anthony Calamai in his Ion Trapping Laboratory to develop an ion-dynamics simulation code that will guide the construction of a new type octupole ion trap. They have worked to set up the Appalachian-Cain Eclipse-Viewing Station, which will take images of the eclipse every several seconds in August, and display those images on a large monitor to the visitors on SCC’s campus.

Tune into our website, www.cas.appstate.edu/eclipse to watch the live feed of the Solar Eclipse, to learn about safety precautions when viewing a solar eclipse and to read more about our faculty and students involved in this project.

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