Raymond Benge, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, TCC NE Campus, gave a presentation on solar eclipses that informed and intrigued the audience at the J. Ardis Bell library on October 17. Professor Benge started out explaining exactly what a solar eclipse is and demonstrating with a globe and ball what the positions of the earth and moon would be in an eclipse. He went on to explain why we don’t see eclipses every month because of the slight differences in earth and moon orbits.
In 1878, Fort Worth, Texas, happened to be a hotspot for science observation when seven astronomers set up telescopes on a farm located where the hospital district is now just south of downtown. Because observation of the sun was mostly possible at that time during total solar eclipses, the group of astronomers from Harvard University traveled to Fort Worth to study the Sun’s corona, chromosphere, and the solar magnetic field. The NE Campus Heritage Room has a donated copy of an 1878 photo of the astronomers with their telescopes set up for the observation.
Professor Benge traveled to Tennessee for the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. This was his first observation of a total solar eclipse and was practice for upcoming eclipses that will be viewable in the DFW area. During the recent 2017 eclipse, he was able to observe differences in shadows, light, temperature, and bird and insect behaviors.
Upcoming Texas viewable solar eclipses to place on your calendar: October 14, 2023—a deep partial eclipse, and April 8, 2024—a total solar eclipse visible in the DFW area. Keep your fingers crossed for clear skies!
In Astronomy, NE Library, Science & Technology, Solar Eclipse, Special Events, STEM
During the month of August 2017, the J. Ardis Bell Library celebrated the total solar eclipse in a variety of ways. We purchased and gave away 100 eclipse glasses, printed 20 pinhole projectors on our 3D printers, and gave away pinhole viewer bookmarks and informational brochures. We welcomed a number of people on eclipse day either picking up glasses, watching NASA TV live streaming of the event across the country, or in front of the library viewing the partial eclipse and taking photos. Book displays and a looping digital presentation about the eclipse were also popular during the month. Here are some photos of the celebration in and out of the library as a reminder of the excitement of this event. Get ready for the next total solar eclipse for North America which will include Texas this time – April 8, 2024!
In Astronomy, NE Library, Observances, Science & Technology, Special Events, STEM
Look in the sky! Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s a solar eclipse! Get ready because on August 21, 2017, the U.S.A. will be in the viewing area to see a total solar eclipse for the first time in almost 40 years.
Even though viewing the total eclipse is possible only in a narrow path from Salem, OR to Charleston, SC, most all of the country will be able to view the partial eclipse.
A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes directly between the earth and the sun. Historically this event has been perceived by the ancient Chinese as the sun being eaten by dragons, as mystical or magical, and often was seen as the predictor of a major upheaval of governments or change in leadership. In the last 100 years scientists have taken advantage of solar eclipses to study the sun in a way that can’t be done when viewing directly. Because it is dangerous to look directly at the sun, pinhole projectors, eclipse glasses, and other devices have been designed so that people can actually observe what’s happening.
The J. Ardis Bell library at TCC NE Campus will be participating for the month of August by having a display of items, such as pinhole projectors, eclipse glasses, and books to check out. We will have a digital presentation looping on our digital screens. Also, there will be free handouts, bookmarks, and some giveaways, including eclipse glasses while they last. On August 21 from 10:00-3pm we will have live streaming of the total eclipse from NASA TV in the library classroom — NLIB 2102. Come for some refreshments and a chance to watch some of the event. The next chance we get in the U.S.A. is April 8, 2024 when Texas will be part of the total eclipse viewing area. Below are some links to more information.
NASA eclipse page
NASA TV Link
“Watching the Friendly Skies – Eclipse Safety Tutorial” from NASA Goddard, 2017.
Blog article from Astronomy magazine, August 2014.
“15 Movies That Feature Eclipses”
ebooks from TCC Library
Bakich, Michael E. Your Guide to the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse. Springer, 2016. Link
Faknoi, Andrew. Astronomy. OpenStax, 2016. Link
Levy, David H. David Levy’s guide to eclipses, transits, and occultations. Cambridge, 2010. Link
In Astronomy, NE Library, Science & Technology, Special Events, STEM, TCC