LIGHT program to provide Aug. 21 eclipse watch party for Lipscomb community

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As Lipscomb University excitedly awaits the start of the 2017-18 school year, the first day of classes on Monday, Aug. 21, will certainly be one to remember as Nashvillians prepare to witness a total solar eclipse for the first time since the 1400s.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, Lipscomb’s LIGHT program, a quality enhancement plan to create awareness of and encouraging the global mindset of the Lipscomb community, will host an eclipse viewing party from noon to 2 p.m. on the lawn at Burton Science Center. Various colleges will set-up booths across campus with giveaways for eclipse watchers to enjoy, and if there is rain, the eclipse event will be held in Allen Arena, where a live feed of the eclipse will be shown.

“Nashville is the largest metropolitan area to experience the 2017 total solar eclipse,” said Stacia Watkins, director of general education, the LIGHT program and the Writing Studio at Lipscomb. “Starting at 11:58 a.m. and ending at 2:54 p.m., the eclipse will leave Lipscomb’s campus in total darkness from 1:27-1:29 p.m. It is estimated that 1.4 million people will travel to Tennessee to view this once-in-a-lifetime experience, so we want to be sure our students, as well as the greater Lipscomb community, has an opportunity to share in it.”

To prepare for the eclipse, which will stretch from Oregon to West Virginia, Watkins says members of the Quest team will distribute LIGHT T-shirts and eclipse glasses to incoming freshman and transfers during Lipscomb’s annual freshman orientation. On Aug. 21, Lipscomb’s Office of Student Life and College of Professional Studies will distribute remaining eclipse glasses to Lipscomb faculty, staff, upperclassman and remaining students.

Although Nashville won’t experience the total eclipse until around 1:25 p.m. on Aug. 21, various screens around campus will display a live feed of the eclipse as seen across the United States throughout the day. From 1:15 p.m. to 2 p.m. classes will be suspended so that students, faculty and staff can gather on the lawn of Burton to watch.

During the watch party, the Raymond B. Jones College of Engineering will also be selling eclipse-themed T-shirts while the LIGHT program members will distribute Sun Drop sodas. The College of Business will also be distributing free Moon Pies in Bison Square.

Tree of Life, Lipscomb’s new bookstore operator, will also be present in Bison Square to mingle with students, and for those who need to cool off, the Beaman Library will be passing out water bottles at its “cool down area” in the courtyard.

HumanDocs, a film series featuring social-justice documentaries at Lipscomb, will feature the documentary, Chasing Shadows, on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 10 p.m. in Swang 108. The film is free and open to the public.

The 60-minute documentary follows young astronomer Geoff Sims as he seeks to capture the perfect eclipse, his travels taking him from the plains of Africa to the icescapes of Svalbard, Norway. Chasing Shadows blends the facts of science with the emotion and spirituality of one person's passionate pursuit of one of nature's most intriguing phenomena.

To help prepare local teachers for the August 21 eclipse, Lipscomb’s College of Education, in partnership with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Motlow State Community STEM Outreach, hosted its annual Friends and Family Summit in July that provided local educators with classroom strategies and activities geared toward the solar eclipse.

Although Aug. 21 is a very exciting day to be in Nashville, Watkins says it is very important that the Lipscomb community understands the dos and don’ts when watching a total solar eclipse.

According to Astronomy Now:

  • DO NOT look at the sun with your naked eyes – the Sun is so bright that it will damage your eyesight, perhaps permanently.
  • DO NOT attempt to look at the sun through a normal telescope or binoculars – a single glance at the sun’s focused light through the eyepiece could be enough to permanently blind you.
  • DO NOT try to look at the sun through cloud or fog – enough harmful light will still pass through to damage your eyes.
  • DO NOT use sunglasses, smoked glass or welder’s glasses to look at the sun – these DO NOT cut out the harmful ultraviolet and infrared light from the sun that can do the real damage.
  • DO NOT use camera film/negatives – these are no protection against the harsh light of the sun.
  • DO NOT attempt to look at the sun through transparent sweet wrappers, or foil. They DO NOT block enough of the sun’s light to prevent you from damaging your eyesight.
  • DO NOT try to observe the eclipse by reflecting the sun off a mirror, a CD, water in a river or even a puddle. The sun’s light will still be too strong.
  • DO NOT combine specialist solar glasses with looking through binoculars or a telescope – the heat from the focused sunlight will melt through the glasses
  • DO NOT use solar filters that come as eyepieces for your telescope – all that focused light can cause the eyepiece to crack, letting through harmful amounts of sunlight that will blind you.
  • DO NOT use specialist eclipses glasses or Mylar film that has been damaged, either scratched or has holes. This will render them useless and result in you damaging your eyesight.
  • DO use dedicated eclipse glasses made of Mylar film. If purchasing solar glasses, check that they are CE approved and display the CE kite mark.
  • DO use eclipse glasses sparingly – continuous use can potentially see them damaged from the sun’s heat.
  • DO use safe methods of observing the eclipse, such as projection through a telescope, or pinhole cameras. These are the safest ways to view the eclipse.
  • And finally, DO enjoy the eclipse safely!

Want to learn more about the eclipse? Read more here.