Ways to view solar eclipse — without leaving Space Coast

Great American Solar Eclipse will be Aug. 21.

Heck, just because the Space Coast didn’t make the list as one of the 10 best places to watch Monday’s solar eclipse doesn’t mean you should tune out the hype.

There will be plenty to see right here in Brevard even though we’re not in the path of totality.

“People are surprised. They expect to only be able to see the eclipse if you’re in the path of totality,” said Saida Caballero-Nieves, assistant professor at Florida Institute of Technology’s Department of Physics and Space Sciences.

But that’s not the case. Experts forecast an 85 percent chance of visibility in this area from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday, with the best viewing between 2:30 and 3 p.m.

Often astronomy is such a remote and abstract field. “You don’t see any of the (celestial) movements day to day, other than the sun,” Caballero-Nieves explained. “This is a good way to see something different and rare.” It’s a chance to “get somebody aware of the cool things that go on in space.”

The next partial eclipse visible from Florida will be sometime in 2023, 2024. Usually, eclipses come in pairs: when there’s a solar eclipse, there’ll be a lunar eclipse. The next total eclipse is in 2045.

With excitement drumming up nationwide about this very unique celestial event, science centers and beachside bars are hopping on the “celebrate the eclipse” bandwagon (see below).

Florida Tech in Melbourne plans to host rooftop eclipse viewing, with interactive activities like projecting the solar image through a Ritz cracker or making a pinhole camera.

Eastern Florida State College Planetarium in Cocoa will have its powerful telescopes ready.

Most Great American Solar Eclipse events will have eclipse glasses available for purchase. Caballero-Nieves and others warn eclipse viewers to take caution. Even with 85 percent visibility, eclipse viewers could become blind or burn their eyes if they look directly at the sun.

https://www.gannett-cdn.com/experiments/usatoday/responsive/eclipse/solar-eclipse-path.html

Ultimate science lesson

Here on the Space Coast, back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon to file outside and look up toward the Cape to watch a shuttle launch — for kids and grownups.

Because the eclipse visibility window falls during school hours, some elementary schools will venture out for viewership. On a recent Brevard Public Schools’ Facebook post about the eclipse, a parent asked: Will students be taken outside to witness the event?

BPS’ answer: “Some classes are using this as an educational opportunity and have secured the appropriate equipment to keep students safe.

One such school is Ocean Breeze Elementary in Indian Harbour Beach.

“We have already purchased eclipse glasses for our whole school (students and adults) and plan on activities, common classroom resources, and morning announcements leading up to the event. We plan to have our whole school out on Aug. 21 at a bit after 1 p.m.,” principal Laurie Hering said in an email.

At Endeavour Elementary in Cocoa, the new science coach, Michelle Berry, secured viewing goggles for students and staff through an anonymous donation. “She is planning activities that include a school-wide viewing,” according to Hilah Mercer, Endeavour principal.

What to expect

Some cool factoids about the eclipse.

• You will feel a slight temperature drop during the eclipse.

• The next total eclipse is in 2045.

• Unique ways to project the solar image: Ritz cracker, collander, slotted spoon with circular holes

• Eclipse-hunting is a thing, like storm-chasing.

• A lot of eclipses fall over the ocean.

• Certain welders’ goggles can be used to look at the eclipse, but they have to have the right specifications. Check with the American Astronomical Society.

Where to celebrate

Here are a few more spots to celebrate that Great American Solar Eclipse.

• Kennedy Space Center on SR 405 in Titusville will host its Solar Eclipse Day event from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 21. Viewing will take place in the Rocket Garden at the KSC Visitor Complex with space experts answering questions and offering commentary. The event is included with daily admission, which is $50 for those 12 and up and $40 for kids ages 3-11. Call 855-433-4210 or visit kennedyspacecenter.com.

• Eastern Florida State College Planetarium, 1519 Clearlake Road, Cocoa, will host viewing for the Great American Eclipse from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 21. Solar eclipse glasses will be available for $1. Call 321-632-1111 or visit easternflorida.edu.

• Florida Tech, 150 W. University Blvd., Melbourne, will host rooftop viewing for the eclipse from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Olin Physical Sciences Center. The university will provide eclipse glasses while supplies last as well as offer small telescopes for eclipse viewing. Other activities include building pinhole cameras to project the image of the sun or using Ritz crackers and other creative items for eclipse viewing. Visit fit.edu.

• Coconuts on the Beach, 2 Minutemen Causeway, Cocoa Beach, will host its solar eclipse party from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 21. 98.5 the Beach will host a remote broadcast. Eclipse viewing glasses will be given away with a minimum $10 purchase. Call 321-784-1422 or visit coconutsonthebeach.com.

• Cocoa Beach Pier, 401 Meade Ave., will host a solar eclipse viewing party from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 21. at its Rikki Tiki Tavern. Viewing glasses will be available for purchase. Call 321-783-7549 or visit cocoabeachpier.com.

• Omni Traveler will host an eclipse viewing party and run a shuttle to Cocoa Beach to view the eclipse between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Aug. 21. Cost is $20 for the shuttle ride. Food and drinks will be available for purchase. Email info@omnitnt.com or visit eventbrite.com.

• Orlando Science Center, 777 E. Princeton St., will host a solar eclipse event from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 21. Activities include making phone filters, solar-themed arts and crafts, calculating distances and possible temperatures, demos and presentations. Eclipse activities will be included with admission, which is $20.95 for adults, $18.95 for seniors and students and $14.95 for kids ages 3-11. OSC also will host free pop-up viewing locations with solar demos, models and kids activities at Central Park West Meadow, 150 W. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, or at Dr. Phillips Center, 445 S. Magnolia Ave. Visit osc.org/eclipse.

• The UCF Planetary Sciences Group and the Astronomy Society will host the UCF and the Great American Solar Eclipse event from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 21 at the UCF reflection pond, 4000 Central Florida Blvd., Orlando, near Millican Hall. Telescopes will be available and some special eclipse glasses. Email planets@planets.ucf.edu.

Contact Sangalang at 321-242-3630 or jsangalang@floridatoday.com.

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