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Solar Eclipse Viewing to be Held on the University Campus on St. Thomas

The US Virgin Islands will experience a solar eclipse during the mid-afternoon on Monday, Aug. 21. The Moon will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun, blocking out about 90 percent of the Sun’s surface as viewed from the Virgin Islands.

The University of the Virgin Islands’ Etelman Observatory and UVI’s Physics program students and faculty will host an eclipse-viewing event from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 21, at UVI’s Sports and Fitness Center on the St. Thomas Campus. UVI has been designated as the only official NASA viewing location for the eclipse in the Caribbean.

The University invites the public to view the “Great American Solar Eclipse,” which it has been called by popular media outlets. This total eclipse of the Sun, in which the Moon blocks 100 percent of the Sun, will be visible from a 70-mile wide path that stretches all across America, beginning in Lincoln City Oregon, crossing the U.S. mainland throughout the day and last being visible on the continent in Charleston, South Carolina. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible to such a large portion of the U.S. was 100 years ago.

While the Virgin Islands are not within this so-called “path of totality,” the territory is quite close. The eclipse passes about 150 miles northeast of St. Thomas.  The territory will see most of the Sun blocked by the Moon. The last time a solar eclipse passed so close to the USVI was 19 years ago.

“It is extremely important to be aware that looking directly at the Sun without eye protection, even when it is partially eclipsed, can damage your eyesight,” said Dr. David Morris, assistant professor of Physics and Etelman Observatory director at UVI.  “Looking at the Sun through binoculars or a telescope, even during an eclipse, will cause permanent eye damage, and possibly blindness.”

More information is available in a news release on the Media Section of the UVI website –http://www.uvi.edu/ - and from this direct link.