The Great American Eclipse Comes to Rockwall (partially)

(ROCKWALL, TX – June 20, 2017) Astrodad (that’s me) is proud to announce that on Monday, August 21, the Rockwall County Library and I will present  a local event of the 2017 Eclipse Across America. Thanks to excellent support from NASA, I’ve got a great “eclipse kit” with safety glasses and information on the event.

We will be set up with two types of solar telescopes and the ISO Certified Solar Viewing glasses in front of the library.  Here in Rockwall we will not experience a total eclipse, but our event will last from 11:39 in the morning until 2:39 in the afternoon.  The Sun will be in deepest eclipse of the Moon at approximately 1:09 in the afternoon, just after lunch.  On behalf of Mother Nature I would like to apologize to all the students in Rockwall ISD, for this event occurs on the first day of school.  I tried to coordinate an event with my favorite “GO-TO” science teachers but in the end, my judgment after doing these events for 13 years as a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador is that I need to be centrally located and the County Library is the best place to be.

What is a Solar Eclipse?

A solar eclipse happens when the moon casts a shadow on Earth, fully or partially (in our case) blocking the sun’s light in its path across the earth as it rotates.  Observers on the ground in the path of the shadows will be able to see the many different phenomena unique to this event. The next total solar eclipse will pass right over Rockwall on April 8, 2024 so I consider this a practice run!

Safety First

Because we are experiencing a partial eclipse, the Sun will never be completely covered by the Moon and it will NEVER be safe to look at the Sun without approved Solar Safety Glasses.  If you come to our event, you will be asked to move into a controlled area where the glasses will be distributed and you may view the eclipse safely and hear a narrative. Also, you will be able to look through my two SAFE Solar telescopes to see the Sun and Moon interacting.  Again WARNING: Permanent eye damage can result from looking at the disk of the Sun directly, or through a camera viewfinder, or with binoculars or a telescope even when only a thin crescent of the Sun remains. When 1% of the Sun’s surface is still visible it is about 10,000 times brighter than the full moon. Staring at the Sun under such circumstances is like using a magnifying glass to focus sunlight onto tinder. The retina of your eye is delicate and irreplaceable. There is little or nothing a retinal surgeon will be able to do to help you. Never look at the Sun during a partial eclipse unless you have adequate eye protection.

What We Will Observe

My two solar telescopes provide safe viewing in both natural (white light) and Hydrogen Alpha (Solar Flames) in great detail. When looking through the safety glasses, it’s just like looking at the moon, except it will be passing over the Sun.  You won’t see the same detail as the telescopes, but you will see the advancing and receding eclipse.  When looking though the telescopes, you may be able to see the effect of the terrain on the moon on the solar shadow.  The moon is NOT flat.   I’m really looking forward to good weather and most of all….Clear Skies!

Our Universe Today is a column written by Blue Ribbon News special contributor, Max Corneau, aka AstroDad, of Rockwall. Images provided by Max Corneau.

Max retired from the U.S. Army in 2009 as a Lieutenant Colonel, Senior Space Operations Officer and Master Aviator. He amassed over 3,200 hours as a pilot of Special Electronic Mission Airplanes. Since 2004 he has been a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, is a Master of Astronomical Outreach through the Astronomcial League and built his own astronomical observatory. His amazing images can be seen at

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