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He's Bringing Home A Total Eclipse

July 2017

SAU Engineering and Physical Science Professor Robert Mitchell, PhD, is making sure the first total solar eclipse he witnesses will be something Ambrosians and Quad-Citians can fully experience as well.

On Aug. 21, the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States in 38 years will occur.

image from GreatAmericanEclipse.comDuring his sabbatical this past spring, Mitchell realized it was an event that could also spark more interest in astronomy and science. So, he decided to make it a public outreach project at home.

Mitchell will livestream on YouTube the total eclipse from Aurora, Neb., and it will be shown live on the Putnam Museum's GIANT Screen in Davenport.

The webcast is a collaborative effort between Mitchell, the Putnam Museum & Science Center, Quad City Astronomical Society, and Edgerton Explorit Center and Leadership Center in Aurora, Neb.

In Aurora, the total solar eclipse is expected to begin at 12:58 p.m. and last two minutes and 35 seconds.

robert mitchellMitchell (at left) said this will be the first time he has been within the path of a total eclipse and hopes those who witness it via the livestream or in-person get a deeper appreciation for astronomy and astronomical events.

"A total solar eclipse is almost the only way people can get a good look at the corona and chromosphere," Mitchell said, which are the two outermost layers of the sun's atmosphere. "Only during a total eclipse can they be seen clearly."

Mitchell encourages everyone who plans to personally view the eclipse outdoors to take all standard precautions. "You must not look at the eclipse with the unaided eye," he said, adding viewers should wear protective eclipse glasses or use pinhole projection or filters specifically designed for eclipse viewing. has some excellent safety tips.

Events at the Putnam begin at 11 a.m. and include a half-hour webcast by Mitchell starting at 11:30 a.m. The doors to the theater will close at 12:30 p.m. QCAS past president Dale Hendricks will give a short presentation prior to the live streaming of the total eclipse, which will be narrated as it occurs.

The QCAS is providing the astronomical equipment Mitchell will use on-site in Aurora, and the Putnam will have an outside viewing area as well as protective eye wear for anyone who wants to view the partial eclipse from 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.

All of the eclipse events at the Putnam are free. To register, call Alice Loff at 563-336-7290. Anyone unable to attend can watch the live stream YouTube webcast by clicking here.

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