Astronomy Club to offer safe viewing of eclipse

August 16, 2017 / by / 0 Comment

It won’t be a full solar eclipse Monday in Arizona, but students and staff at Grand Canyon University still are warned to view it safely and can do so on the Quad.

By Karen Fernau
GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon University’s newly formed Astronomy Club is hosting an eclipse viewing party on Monday for when the moon’s shadow blocks the sun.

“It will be amazing, and we want to help others safely watch and understand the eclipse,” said Dr. Tom McCarthy, assistant physics professor and sponsor of the 50-member club.

Monday’s total solar eclipse will be the first in nearly 40 years to be visible from the U.S. mainland, traversing a stretch of land about 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina. It’s been 99 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the country from the Pacific to Atlantic.

Although Arizona will experience only a partial eclipse, McCarthy said it’s still a must-see event. The viewing party is set for 9 a.m. to noon on the Quad.

The most dramatic view will be at 10:33 a.m., a point when the moon’s shadow blocks nearly 70 percent of the sun.

GCU’s viewing party will include as many as five telescopes, at least two equipped with special filters for safe viewing. To make viewing easy and safe, it will be projected on a screen, McCarthy said.

Astronomy club members – led by President Christian Clifton, Vice President Bianca Georgi and Secretary-Treasurer Denisse Delos Santos – will be on hand to answer questions, explain the rare event and offer safe viewing tips.

A few tips they plan to share: Only those with eclipse glasses, which are regulated by an international safety standard, should look at the sun. Looking into the sun’s brightness can cause damage to the retina, the light-sensitive part of the eye, and blindness. Even the smallest amount of exposure can cause blurry vision or temporary blindness. Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope or binoculars.

McCarthy added that sunlight shining through the leaves of trees will produce a multitude of eclipse images on the sidewalk. A piece of paper projected on the ground will do the same thing.

Monday’s viewing party coincides with the first day of Welcome Week, but McCarthy urges students and staff to take a break and join the Quad party watching the last total solar eclipse in the U.S. until April 4, 2024, when it will move from Mexico to Maine. The next coast-to-coast eclipse similar to this year’s will be on Aug. 12, 2045.

Contact Karen Fernau at (602) 639-8344 or

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