Solar eclipse a 76 year wait for Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium curator

Aug 21, 2017

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Here in West Michigan, if the clouds cooperate, we will experience an 85-percent solar eclipse. When you turn your eyes to the skies this afternoon what will you experience? The man in charge of the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium tells us you must protect your eyes by wearing eclipse glasses. Once those are in place, kick back and enjoy the show.

“There’s a prediction that this will be the most widely observed eclipse in history.”

That’s David DeBruyn, Curator Emeritus at the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium. He tells us he’s been waiting a long time for this event.

“Since I was a junior in college when I took an astronomy course and was studying eclipse paths because these things can be predicted with a great deal of accuracy thousands of years into the future. I remember very clearly looking at the paths of upcoming eclipses and seeing one for August 2017 that would pass right through the middle of the United States and then wondering ‘Will you still be alive in 2017?’ and here I am age 76 and very much anticipating it. Unless you have some strong scientific interest in it, it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the unique spectacle. It’s kind of interesting that the moon, which is 400 times smaller than the sun is also 400 times closer. So it means that the disc of the moon and the disc of the sun as seen from the Earth are nearly the same size. And only rarely does the moon line up in such a way that it can blot out the entire disc of the sun. Together with the brighter stars and planets, there will be two bright planets, Venus and Jupiter, that will be dominant in the sky not far from the eclipsed sun and some of the brighter stars and constellations will appear. It will be deep twilight about like you would experience a half hour to 45 minutes after the sun goes down. But this twilight will go all around the horizon, all around the horizon, will be this glow. I can describe this with enthusiasm because I’ve seen five of them and every single one of them has been different but all have had certain things in common, too. One of them is this magnificent glow that will light up any clouds that are out near the horizon.” The solar eclipse will begin this afternoon at 12:58 and reach maximum view at 2:22. The Grand Rapids Public Museum will have a limited supply of solar eclipse glasses for sale today during its eclipse party.

Patrick Center, WGVU News.