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Get ready for a total solar eclipse
2017 eclipse
Turlock High School students don their special eclipse glasses prior to viewing the total solar eclipse in 2017 (Journal file photo).

On April 8, the skies above Stanislaus County will offer a rare celestial spectacle: a total solar eclipse.

So, be sure to mark your calendars, because If you miss this one, scientists at NASA say there won’t be another visible from the contiguous United States until Aug. 23, 2044.

To celebrate the occasion, the Modesto Children's Museum, along with Sutter Health and Stanislaus County Library, invites the community to congregate at designated viewing sites across the region to witness the eclipse.

“A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, blocking the entire surface of the sun from view,” said Ryan Hollister, a science professor at California State University, Stanislaus, and Modesto Junior College.
“Folks directly in the viewing path will experience rapid temperature drops — perhaps 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, or a little more — and the stars will come out during totality as the moon’s inner shadow, called the umbra,  travels over the Earth.

“Totality will average a bit over four minutes in the U.S. portion of the path because the moon is slightly closer to the Earth in its orbit than the 2017 eclipse. The moon being closer to Earth makes the umbra wider. That means this will be a truly unforgettable experience for folks in Texas to southeast Canada, weather-permitting. For us in Turlock, we’ll be in the wider, lighter, outer shadow called the penumbra and will only see a partial eclipse with about 48 percent of the sun's surface covered. It should look like a giant Pac-Man heading straight for Earth.”

Hollister secured about 2,500 pairs of solar eclipse glasses in 2017 so that Turlock High students could watch the solar event safely.

“Only look at the sun through specialized eclipse glasses, or you’ll likely burn part of your eyes, causing lifelong damage,” cautioned Hollister.

Sutter Health is providing 10,000 pairs of eclipse-viewing glasses — on a first-come, first-served basis — to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. A portion of the glasses will go to Modesto City Schools students.

“We’re excited for kids of all ages,” said Christina Mize, director of advancement at Modesto Children's Museum. “Twenty years from now, all these young students will be adults.

“ We’re really grateful to Sutter Health and Stanislaus County Library and the Gallo Center for allowing us to be on site at their locations.”

The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Stanislaus County Library locations throughout the county:

— Turlock, 550 Minaret Ave.

— Denair, 4801 Kersey Rd.

— Keyes, 5506 Jennie Ave.

— Patterson, 46 N. Salado

— Modesto, 1500 I St.

— Salida, 4835 Sisk Rd.

— Newman, 1305 Kern St.

— Oakdale, 151 S. First St.

— Riverbank, 3442 Santa Fe St.

— Gallo Center for the Arts Rotary Garden, 1000 I St., Modesto

At each viewing site, attendees will not only have the opportunity to safely observe the eclipse, but also to engage in a variety of fun, exciting, and educational activities for all ages.

“Eclipses are rare occurrences,” said Mize. “We're excited to make this event accessible to everyone, fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity about the universe.”

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