On Monday, August 21st, we have a rare event occurring – a total solar eclipse. Gering, Nebraska is located within the path of totality. This total eclipse is visible along a 65-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina. This path has been called the “Great American Total Solar Eclipse”.
During the eclipse, the sun will silhouette the moon, temperatures will fall and the sky will grow dark. People from all over the world will be traveling to the Panhandle to get a chance to witness this spectacular natural phenomena. For astronomers, this is an excellent opportunity to get data about the sun. For the general public, it can be a life-changing event. During a total eclipse, the moons completely blocks out the sun, our blue skies vanish, stars will come out, and we will see the faint outer part of the sun that is not normally visible to the naked eye.
Eclipses are not so rare if you are willing to travel as there tends to be one somewhere on this planet every 18 months. However, if you are unwilling to travel, the average wait to see the next one is about 350 years. So what makes this one so special? This eclipse is the only eclipse ever to completely go over the continental U.S. without touching any other country. However, the last total solar eclipse to happen covering the continental U.S. was 99 years ago in June of 1918. While there has been other sightings since, (the most recent in 1979) they have only clipped a few states and did not stretch across the continental U.S.
During the event here on the museum’s campus, every visitor who comes onto the campus will be greeted with a FREE bottle of water and a pair of special NASA approved solar filtering glasses which will darken the sun. The sun will be in the process of being covered for about 75 minutes, glasses can the be removed to view totality with the naked eye for one minute and 28 seconds, and then glasses back on for another 70 minutes while the moon moves away from the sun. There is no admission to come onto the campus to view the eclipse, however parking will be first come, first serve. Viewing location will be directly behind the museum. If you are able, we highly encourage bringing your own chairs as seating will be minimal.
Gering Kiwanis will be cooking breakfast and lunch for this event.
Legacy of the Plains will be having activities here in the days leading up to the Solar Eclipse. This Saturday and Sunday features horse and mule rides around campus. Please note that during the solar eclipse, the main exhibit hall will be closed from 10am to 1pm to ensure the ability of all volunteers and staff to enjoy this once in a lifetime phenomena.