Planning Underway for 2017 Solar Eclipse Festivities


Astronomers say the area in and around Kearney and Ravenna will be one of the best places in all of North America to view the total solar eclipse set to occur on Aug. 21, 2017.

The sky will go dark for about two minutes, between 12:57 and 12:59 p.m. but the duration of the partial eclipse is about 3 hours.

Kearney Visitors Bureau is leading committee to coordinate events to make Kearney/Ravenna the destination for The Great American Eclipse 2017 watchers. The committee has already been meeting for two years under the initial guidance of Ken Trantham, professor and chair of physics and astronomy at UNK.

“The total solar eclipse in August 2017 will be one of those ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ events,” said Trantham. “The alignment of the Moon and Earth required for a total solar eclipse happens, on average, about every 18 months. Those eclipses are largely unnoticed because either they occur over unpopulated areas (such as an ocean) or they are annular or partial eclipses."

However, Trantham says this time is unique because the position of the moon will create a total eclipse, which will make the day dark as night.

“We in central Nebraska have special privilege since the shadow will be passing over Kearney and Ravenna,” added Trantham.

Volunteers from Kearney and Ravenna are bringing together ideas for events at both cities during the weekend of Aug. 19-21. Ideas range from science speakers, kids’ activities, music and concerts, arts festivals, movies, family fun festival and games.

An epicenter for events will be the UNK planetarium, which plans to feature numerous public shows on astrophysics and our universe. UNK physicists are planning numerous extra free planetarium shows during 2017, especially in August 2017 to preview the astronomical event.

A website and social media accounts have been created to keep people updated on plans.

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