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Science Center hosts Great American Eclipse

Fleet Science Center will host a free outdoor eclipse viewing event beginning at 9 a.m. on the morning of Monday, Aug. 21. (courtesy of Fleet Science center)

Science Center hosts Great American Eclipse

On the morning of Monday, Aug. 21, the path of the moon will come directly between the sun and the earth, and The Great American Eclipse will occur in the sky above the United States. This will be the first total solar eclipse to occur in the United States since 1979. The path of totality — the roughly 100-mile-wide band where the moon will appear to completely block out the sun — will run right through the middle of the country from Oregon to South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse will be visible to almost everyone in the continental United States.

To celebrate this special celestial event, the Fleet Science Center will host a free outdoor eclipse viewing event beginning at 9 a.m. on the morning of Monday, Aug. 21. This includes free eclipse viewing from the Plaza de Balboa in front of the Fleet Science Center; the opportunity to ask the Fleet resident astronomer, Dr. Lisa Will, all your eclipse-related questions; supplies and instructions to make your own pinhole projector to view the eclipse; special solar telescope viewing with the San Diego Astronomy Association; and the opportunity to purchase inexpensive solar eclipse glasses made with special filters that allow you to view the eclipse without risking eye damage.

In San Diego, we can expect to see a partial solar eclipse with 57 percent coverage. At 9:07 a.m. the moon will start to move across the sun. The world will get noticeably darker as more and more of the sun gets covered. Maximum eclipse for San Diego coverage occurs at 10:23 a.m. and the end of the eclipse for us will be at 11:46 a.m. There won't be another solar eclipse visible in San Diego until 2023.

“The eclipse is an event for all of your senses,” said Dr. Steve Snyder, CEO of the Fleet Science Center. “During the eclipse, take the time to look at the world around you. Watch the shadows of the trees for projections of the eclipse. Listen to the sounds around you as the natural world reacts to this event. See if you can feel the change in temperature as the moon begins to block the sun.”

No tickets are needed for the eclipse viewing event on the Plaza de Balboa. The Fleet's cafe, Craveology, will be open for croissants, lattes, smoothies and more.

Another option available to eclipse fans on Monday, Aug. 21, will be to join the Fleet for the NASA Edge Megacast in the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater. The Fleet will open at 8:30 a.m. and will show the NASA Edge Megacast on the Giant Dome Screen beginning at 8:45 a.m. and continuing until 12:30 p.m. Fleet visitors can come and go as they please during the Megacast, until theater capacity is reached. Regular Fleet admission rates apply.

In the Megacast, viewers around the world will see a wealth of images captured before, during and after the eclipse by 11 spacecraft, at least three NASA aircraft, more than 50 high-altitude balloons and the astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Each view will offer a unique vantage point for the celestial event. When the moon completely blocks the sun the otherwise hidden solar corona appears. Bright stars and planets also will become visible. 

The Megacast on the Dome is free with paid Fleet admission. This is not a separately ticketed event, so attendees are still welcome to select an IMAX® film to view starting at 1 p.m. as part of their admission. The NASA broadcast will be shown on the dome until 12:30 p.m., and it will continue on a large monitor in the Fleet's theater lobby until 1:15 p.m.

Most importantly, view the eclipse safely. If you want to be ultra-prepared, purchase your solar eclipse glasses in advance from the Fleet's North Star Science Store and attend one of the eclipse preparation events. Visit http://www.fleetscience.org/events/great-american-eclipse.

The Fleet Science Center connects people of all ages to the possibilities and power of science to create a better future. Located in Balboa Park at 1875 El Prado, two blocks south of the San Diego Zoo on Park Boulevard, the Fleet is San Diego's science center. For information regarding current admission prices, call (619) 238-1233 or visit fleetscience.org.

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