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Learn about 2023, 2024 eclipses at Observatory open house

May 17, 2023
IU Kokomo Observatory
IU Kokomo Observatory

KOKOMO, Ind. – Are you excited for the April 2024 eclipse?

Learn more about the total solar eclipse, and a partial eclipse on October 14 at the last Observatory open house of the academic year on Sunday, May 21.

Patrick Motl, professor of physics, will begin the open house at 8 p.m. with discussion of the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse, which will travel from Mexico through the U.S. to the maritime provinces of Canada.

According to NASA, an eclipse takes place when a planet or moon passes between another planet, moon, or the sun. A total solar eclipse happens when the moon lines up with the earth and blocks the sun’s radiant light, which casts a shadow on Earth.

The sun is a very large star, about 433,000 miles in radius, and the moon is about 1,080 miles in radius. That’s why the path, or shadow, of the eclipse is smaller and larger in some areas. As the earth spins, only certain sections of the U.S. and the world can see the eclipse at its total shadow, or its partial shadow. Kokomo is on the northern limit of the path of totality.

Motl will also discuss an annular solar eclipse that will cross North, Central, and South America on October 14, 2023. An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth while it is at its farthest point from Earth. Because the Moon is farther away from Earth, it appears smaller than the Sun and does not completely cover the star. This creates a “ring of fire” effect in the sky.

After the presentation, stargazers may be able to view the crescent Moon, Mars, Venus, and the spring constellations through the Observatory’s two telescopes. They are a six-inch Takahashi refracting telescope and a 16-inch Meade reflecting telescope mounted together. The Takahashi provides exceptionally sharp images of planets, while the Meade’s larger light-collecting area allows viewers to see fainter objects in the sky. 

Viewing will continue until 10 p.m.

The Observatory is at 2660 S. Washington Street. Admission and parking are free.

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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