2017 Great American Eclipse

I hosted two events for the 2017 Great American Eclipse – one for the public in the path of totality, and one for current Davidson College students, faculty, and staff on campus.  Information about both of these events can be found below.

  • The Sun, the Moon, and You! – A commemorative eclipse celebration in Winnsboro, SC

In the year 1900, then Davidson College Professor and future College president Dr. Henry Louis Smith joined astronomers from several other universities to participate in an expedition to observe the 28 May total eclipse from Winnsboro, SC.  During the 19th and early 20th century, it was common for American universities to assemble such expeditions to study the Sun and physical phenomena during eclipses.  Of all of the great eclipse expeditions of this era, there are only 2 observing stations that are in the path of totality for the 2017 Great American Eclipse, and Winnsboro, SC is one of these!

To commemorate the expedition of Dr. Smith and to celebrate the Great American Eclipse, I am planning a series of events in Winnsboro, SC.  All events are FREE and open to the public.  Please join us for one or more of these events!

Eclipse exhibit at the Fairfield County Museum:  July 10 – November 1

This exhibit will feature details about the May 28, 1900 total eclipse expedition to Winnsboro, the connection to the 2017 Great American Eclipse, and later 19th/early 20th century astronomy.

Professional Development Workshop:  Saturday, August 5th from 10 am – 1 pm

Engaging students before, during, and after the Great American Eclipse

Location:  First United Methodist Church in Winnsboro

Prior to the May 28, 1900 eclipse in Winnsboro, Professor W.B. Witherow of the Mt. Zion Institute provided the public a chance to learn about the eclipse.  As recorded int he May 5, 1900 issue of The Fairfield News and Herald, “For several weeks Prof. Witherow has been giving the pupils of Mt. Zion practical talks on various phenomena in connection with the coming eclipse…Today at 10 o’clock an opportunity will be given the citizens of the community to enjoy an hour’s study in preparation for the observation of the eclipse. At that hour Prof. Witherow … will be glad to have all interested persons to come.”

To honor the work of Professor Witherow, I will be leading this workshop which is designed to help K-12 educators and other community leaders (scouts, 4-H, church, etc.) prepare for the eclipse.  Interactive strategies for engaging students before, during, and after the eclipse will be presented.  Participants will receive instruction on basic eclipse science, learn about eclipse safety precautions, and learn how to excite students through various activities, models, and demonstrations.  Small sets of solar viewing glasses will be provided to all participants and light snacks will be served.  This workshop is FREE but limited to the first 15 registrants.

To register – fill out the form located here: https://goo.gl/forms/85V77CCqn1fWyRgF2

Public Lecture:  Sunday, August 20th at 7 pm

The Sun and the Coming Eclipse

Location:  Christ Central Community Center in Winnsboro, SC

Professor Robert W. Prentiss of Rutgers College presented an evening lecture entitled The Sun and the Coming Eclipse at the courthouse in Winnsboro two days prior to the 1900 eclipse.  According to The Fairfield News and Herald, “The admission fee [was] 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children.  The first twenty dollars of the proceeds will go to Prof. Prentiss and the balance to Mt. Zion Library.”

For the Great American Eclipse, I will present a public lecture by the same name as that delivered by Professor Prentiss – The Sun and the Coming Eclipse.  Join us to hear about the 1900 eclipse expedition, how to view the eclipse safely, and what to expect during totality.  Unlike the lecture from 1900, this event is FREE and open to the public.  No tickets or advance registration is required.  However, if you would like to donate 25 cents per adult and 10 cents per child, we would be happy to donate all proceeds to the library as well!

Public Eclipse Party:  Monday, August 21st from 1 – 4 pm

Location:  Garden Street Park Ballfield, Winnsboro, SC – Located at the corner of N. Garden Street and Drayton Street.  Note that this is NOT where your GPS will bring you if you use ‘Garden Street Park’ as your destination.

Time:  The event is from 1 – 4 pm.  To allow time for setup, we will open the gates at 12:30 pm.

Event ParkingThere is no way to guess how many visitors will join us for this event.  As Winnsboro is a small town, there is a lot of street parking and small lot parking.  Winnsboro police will be out directing parking near the ball field.  Overflow parking will be available at the old Walmart Shopping Center located at the corner of the 321 bypass and Ninth Street/St Rd S-20-185.  A parking attendant will be there, and a free shuttle service to and from the ball park will be provided from  12 noon – 5 pm. 

Pets, chairs, grills, etc:  The event is family friendly, but no dogs are allowed on inside the ballpark.  Please leave your pets at home!  There is limited seating at the park, so you may wish to bring a chair or blanket, if possible.  I have also been contacted by a few folks wishing to bring a grill.  Due to the large crowds expected, we will not allow grills on the ballfield for safety reasons.

Join us to celebrate totality! The first 2700 guests to this event will receive a pair of FREE solar glasses to safely observe the eclipse!  In addition to the main event (the total eclipse), we will celebrate this historic event with FREE views of the Sun through our solar telescopes, solar eclipse exhibits, crafts, games for the kids, and eclipse-themed snacks.  It is sure to be a great time for the whole family!  Bring a blanket or lawn chair, a picnic basket, and some of your closest friends and get ready to party!

For observers in Winnsboro, totality will occur at 2:41 pm and will last for 1 minute and 21 seconds.  Although this does not seem like a long time, it will likely be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.  Before and after totality, observers will be able to see a partial eclipse as totality approaches.

Event Flyer (click link for larger or printable version)

Workshop Flyer (click link for larger or printable version)

  • Davidson College Eclipse Party (for Davidson employees and students only)

A campus-wide eclipse celebration will be held on the day of the Great American Eclipse, which also happens to be the first day of classes for the 2017 – 2018 academic year!  All students, faculty, and staff will receive a free pair of solar glasses to safely observe the Sun during the eclipse, which will be seen as approximately 97% total from campus.

After taking part in an eclipse-themed lunch in Vail Commons, bring your eclipse glasses to Chambers Lawn from 2:30 – 3:00 pm to view the eclipse with a few thousand of your closest friends, professors, and colleagues!  Let’s make this the single most-attended event by the campus community in Davidson history!

Event Flyer (click link for larger or printable version)

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